Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New material approach should increase solar cell efficiency

24.04.2013
“When designing next generation solar energy conversion systems, we must first develop ways to more efficiently utilize the solar spectrum,” explained Lane Martin, whose research group has done just that.

“This is a fundamentally new way of approaching these matters,” said Martin, who is an assistant professor of materials science and engineering (MatSE) at Illinois. “From these materials we can imagine carbon-neutral energy production of clean-burning fuels, waste water purification and remediation, and much more.”


The correlated electron metal SrRuO3 exhibits strong visible slight absorption. Overlaid here on the AM1.5G solar spectrum, it can be seen that SrRuO3 absorbs more than 75 times more light than TiO2. The structural, chemical, and electronic compatibility of TiO2 and SrRuO3 further enables the fabrication of heterojunctions with exciting photovoltaic and photocatalytic response driven by hot-carrier injection.

Martin’s research group brought together aspects of condensed matter physics, semiconductor device engineering, and photochemistry to develop a new form of high-performance solar photocatalyst based on the combination of the TiO2 (titanium dioxide) and other “metallic” oxides that greatly enhance the visible light absorption and promote more efficient utilization of the solar spectrum for energy applications. Their paper, “Strong Visible-Light Absorption and Hot-Carrier Injection in TiO2/SrRuO3 Heterostructures,” appears in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

According to Martin, the primary feature limiting the performance of oxide-based photovoltaic and/or photocatalytic systems has traditionally been the poor absorption of visible light in these often wide band gap materials. One candidate oxide material for such applications is anatase TiO2, which is arguably the most widely-studied photocatalyst due to its chemical stability, non-toxicity, low-cost, and excellent band alignment to several oxidation-reduction reactions. As the backbone of dye-sensitized solar cells, however, the presence of a light-absorbing dye accounts for a large band gap which limits efficient usage of all but the UV portion of sunlight.

“We observed that the unusual electronic structure of SrRuO3 is also responsible for unexpected optical properties including high absorption across the visible spectrum and low reflection compared to traditional metals,” stated Sungki Lee, the paper’s first author. “By coupling this material to TiO2 we demonstrate enhanced visible light absorption and large photocatalytic activities.”

“SrRuO3 is a correlated electron oxide which is known to possess metallic-like temperature dependence of its resistivity and itinerant ferromagnetism and for its widespread utility as a conducting electrode in oxide heterostructures,” Lee added. Referring to this material as a “metal,” however, is likely inappropriate as the electronic structure and properties are derived from a combination of complex electronic density of states, electron correlations, and more.

Using a process called photo-excited hot-carrier injection from the SrRuO3 to the TiO2, the researchers created new heterostructures whose novel optical properties and the resulting high photoelectrochemical performance provide an interesting new approach that could advance the field of photocatalysis and further broaden the potential applications of other metallic oxides.

This work provides an exciting new approach to the challenge of designing visible-light photosensitive materials and has resulted in a provisional patent application. The work was primarily supported by the ongoing International Institute for Carbon Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) program, a partnership between Kyushu University in Japan and the University of Illinois.

“The I2CNER project brings together some of the leading energy researchers from around the globe,” explained I2CNER Director Petros Sofronis, who is also a professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at Illinois. “Results from Dr. Martin’s research group and others demonstrate that I2CNER is not only an experiment on international collaboration. It is a concerted institutionalized effort to pursue green innovation and reduced CO2 emissions, as well as to advance fundamental science and develop science-based technological solutions for the reorganization of sustainable and environmentally friendly society.”

Contact:
Lane Martin, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 217/244-9162

Petros Sofronis, director, International Institute for Carbon Neutral Energy Research, 217/333-2636.

Writer: Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office, 217/244-7716

Lane Martin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.illinois.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht The stacked colour sensor
16.11.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Counterfeits and product piracy can be prevented by security features, such as printed 3-D microstructures
16.11.2017 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>