Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Composite nanomaterials show promise for solar hydrogen generation

Graduate students Jennifer Hensel and Gongming Wang tested the performance of composite nanomaterials in PEC cells for hydrogen production. Photo by Yat Li.
Graduate students Jennifer Hensel and Gongming Wang tested the performance of composite nanomaterials in PEC cells for hydrogen production. Photo by Yat Li.

Abstract:
A novel strategy for engineering semiconductor materials can boost the performance of water-splitting solar cells for hydrogen production, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Composite nanomaterials show promise for solar hydrogen generation

Santa Cruz, CA | Posted on February 9th, 2010

Using sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen is potentially a clean and sustainable way to generate hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles. Photovoltaic cells use solar energy to generate electricity, and electricity can be used to split water by electrolysis. But a more direct and efficient approach is provided by photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells, which use solar energy to generate hydrogen inside the cell itself.

The UCSC researchers focused on the semiconductor material used as a light-absorbing anode in the PEC cell. They combined two techniques--called elemental doping and quantum dot sensitization--that have been used to improve the performance of metal oxide semiconductors in solar cells. These techniques use nanotechnology to manipulate the structure of a material on the scale of billionths of a meter.

Previous work in the laboratory of Jin Zhang, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSC, showed that this combination of techniques has a synergistic effect, markedly enhancing the performance of photovoltaic cells (see earlier story 1). In the new study, Zhang teamed up with Yat Li, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, to test the same strategy in a PEC cell.

"Elemental doping and quantum dot sensitization are two different techniques that work well by themselves. We found that we can combine them to get a synergistic effect," Li said. "We not only extended this idea nicely to a photoelectrochemical cell for hydrogen generation, we also proposed a new model to explain the observed experimental data."

Zhang noted that more theoretical work is needed to fully understand the mechanisms involved. "Understanding the mechanisms will allow us to optimize the effects," he said. "The model we proposed in the first paper was very preliminary, but the new results have helped us refine our model."

The researchers reported their findings in the journal Nano Letters in a paper posted online on January 25. Lead authors of the paper (2) were Jennifer Hensel, a graduate student in Zhang's lab, and Gongming Wang, a graduate student in Li's lab.

The researchers synthesized thin films of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, as well as titanium dioxide nanowire arrays vertically aligned in a thin film on a substrate. The titanium dioxide films were doped with nitrogen, and cadmium selenide nanoparticles were used for quantum dot sensitization. The resulting nanostructured composite materials were then used as photoanodes in a PEC cell to compare their performance in carefully controlled experiments.

The results are an important demonstration of the potential to improve the performance of photoelectrochemical cells, as well as photovoltaic solar cells, using carefully designed materials, Zhang said. "The key is that combining different approaches in a rational manner can significantly boost performance," he said.

This research was supported by UCSC, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the NSF of China.

1. press.ucsc.edu/text.asp?pid=1852
2. pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl903217w

####

About University of California, Santa Cruz
UC Santa Cruz has a current enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue course work in more than 60 majors, and graduate students work toward master's degrees, doctoral degrees, and graduate certificates in more than 30 academic fields. Above: Students pass through the Science Hill area of the campus, a picturesque cluster of science buildings, including the award-winning Science & Engineering Library.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Tim Stephens
UCSC
(831) 459-2495

Copyright © University of California, Santa Cruz

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat May 18th, 2018

New blood test rapidly detects signs of pancreatic cancer May 17th, 2018

Disability Can Be a Superpower in Space Disabled astronauts offer unique solutions to emergencies in space May 17th, 2018

Deeper understanding of quantum chaos may be the key to quantum computers May 16th, 2018

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat May 18th, 2018

New blood test rapidly detects signs of pancreatic cancer May 17th, 2018

Deeper understanding of quantum chaos may be the key to quantum computers May 16th, 2018

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Academic/Education

Grand Opening of UC Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) to Spotlight JEOL Center for Nanoscale Solutions: Renowned Materials Scientists to Present at the 1st International Symposium on Advanced Microscopy and Spectroscopy (ISAMS) April 18th, 2018

Lifeboat Foundation funds flying 3D-printed classroom cubesats with Perlan II April 16th, 2018

SUNY Poly’s Center for Semiconductor Research in Albany Earns World-Class TÜV SÜD AMERICA INC. ISO 9001:2015 Certification: Albany NanoTech Complex Certification Assures Top-Tier Quality in Semiconductor Test Structures; Certification a First for a SUNY Campus March 6th, 2018

Luleå University of Technology is using the Deben CT5000TEC stage to perform x-ray microtomography experiments with the ZEISS Xradia 510 Versa to understand deformation and strain inside inhomogeneous materials November 7th, 2017

Announcements

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat May 18th, 2018

New blood test rapidly detects signs of pancreatic cancer May 17th, 2018

Disability Can Be a Superpower in Space Disabled astronauts offer unique solutions to emergencies in space May 17th, 2018

Deeper understanding of quantum chaos may be the key to quantum computers May 16th, 2018

Energy

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Hematene joins parade of new 2D materials: Rice University-led team extracts 3-atom-thick sheets from common iron oxide May 8th, 2018

A designer's toolkit for constructing complex nanoparticles May 5th, 2018

Scientists Pinpoint Energy Flowing Through Vibrations in Superconducting Crystals: Interactions between electrons and the atomic structure of high-temperature superconductors impacted by elusive and powerful vibrations May 4th, 2018

Quantum Dots/Rods

Individual quantum dots imaged in 3-D for first time February 28th, 2018

Moving nanoparticles using light and magnetic fields January 25th, 2018

Tweaking quantum dots powers-up double-pane solar windows: Engineered quantum dots could bring down the cost of solar electricity January 2nd, 2018

Quantum communications bend to our needs: By changing the wavelengths of entangled photons to those used in telecommunications, researchers see quantum technology take a major leap forward September 28th, 2017

Solar/Photovoltaic

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold May 15th, 2018

Hematene joins parade of new 2D materials: Rice University-led team extracts 3-atom-thick sheets from common iron oxide May 8th, 2018

Harvesting clean hydrogen fuel through artificial photosynthesis May 3rd, 2018

Research gives new ray of hope for solar fuel April 27th, 2018

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project