In the journal Angewandte Chemie, American researchers have now introduced a new electrocatalyst consisting of a conductive network of core-shell nanowires that is just as efficient as conventional metal oxide films on indium tin oxide (ITO) and a great deal more transparent and robust.
Nickel and cobalt oxides are attractive anode materials for the oxidation of water because they are readily available and demonstrate high catalytic activity. For use in photoelectric synthesis cells, in which chemical conversions are driven by light, the oxides are typically electrodeposited onto ITO substrates.
ITO is used because of its high transmittance and low sheet resistance. However, the high potentials required for the oxidation of water cause the conductivity of ITO surfaces to fall. In addition, indium is expensive and the production of ITO films is costly. Another disadvantage is that the catalytic oxide layers reduce the light transmittance and thus the light captured by the photovoltaic components.
A team led by Benjamin J. Wiley at Duke University in Durham has now developed a new approach to solve these problems. Their trick is to replace the ITO electrode with a conductive network of copper nanowires. Copper is a common element and is orders of magnitude cheaper than indium.
In addition, the nanowires can be quickly, easily, and inexpensively deposited onto a glass surface from a liquid. Afterward, the researchers electrolytically deposit nickel or cobalt onto the nanowires. The resulting network of core-shell nanowires is as efficient as metal oxide films of similar composition for the electrocatalytic oxidation of water, but is several times more transparent.
The nanowire film can also be deposited onto a flexible sheet of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic instead of glass.
Unlike ITO-based electrocatalysts on PET substrates, which suffer from significant loss of conductivity after repeated bending, the film made of nanowires isn’t really affected. The scientists are optimistic that their approach will open up new possibilities for the design of more efficient, mechanically robust, and affordable light-harvesting systems for the production of solar fuels.
About the Author
Dr. Benjamin J. Wiley is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Duke University. His research is focused on how to control the assembly of atoms on the nanoscale to create new materials with properties specifically designed to solve problems in electronics and renewable energy. He is a recent recipient of the CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.
Author: Benjamin J. Wiley, Duke University, Durham (USA), http://people.duke.edu/~bjw24/contact.html
Title: Optically Transparent Water Oxidation Catalysts Based on Copper Nanowires
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201306585
Benjamin J. Wiley | Source: Angewandte Chemie
Further information: pressroom.angewandte.org
More articles from Life Sciences:
Estrogen: Not just produced by the ovaries
05.12.2013 | University of Wisconsin-Madison
Iranian biodiversity was underestimated, several new candidate species found
05.12.2013 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
The Light: Global study gets underway with online user survey
Light has a fundamental impact on our sense of well-being and performance. In cooperation with Zumtobel, a supplier of lighting solutions, Fraunhofer IAO has launched a global user survey of lighting quality in offices. The objective is to identify the best lighting conditions for a variety of spaces and lighting ...
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.
Physicists at the University of Washington and Stony Brook University in New York believe the phenomenon might be intrinsically linked with wormholes, hypothetical features of space-time that in popular science fiction can provide a much-faster-than-light shortcut from one part of the universe to another.
But here’s the catch: One couldn’t actually ...
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball – a star is born.
New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times brighter than it is now. The results are published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal Letters.
The young ...
EPFL scientists have shown how to achieve a dramatic increase in the capacity of optical fibers; Their simple, innovative solution reduces the amount of space required between the pulses of light that transport data
Optical fibers carry data in the form of pulses of light over distances of thousands of miles at amazing speeds. They are one of the glories of modern telecommunications technology.
However, their capacity is limited, because the pulses of light need to be lined up one after the other in ...
NASA's Hurricane and Severe Storms Sentinel airborne mission known as HS3 wrapped up for the 2013 Atlantic Ocean hurricane season at the end of September, and had several highlights. HS3 will return to NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., for the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.
During the 2013 mission, two unmanned Global Hawks flew from Wallops for the first time. The mission highlights included studying the Saharan Air Layer, following the genesis of a tropical storm, finding a unique hybrid core or center circulation in a redeveloped storm, obtaining measurements on the strongest side of ...
05.12.2013 | Health and Medicine
05.12.2013 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
05.12.2013 | Information Technology
05.12.2013 | Event News
04.12.2013 | Event News
12.11.2013 | Event News