Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Empa grows 'sea urchin'-shaped structures

These are "sea urchins" made of tiny polystyrene balls, with zinc oxide nanowire "spines" are created using a simple electrochemical process. Credit: Empa
These are "sea urchins" made of tiny polystyrene balls, with zinc oxide nanowire "spines" are created using a simple electrochemical process. Credit: Empa

Abstract:
More efficient photocells thanks to nanostructured surfaces

Empa grows 'sea urchin'-shaped structures

Switzerland | Posted on August 1st, 2010

Processes which lend materials new characteristics are generally complicated and therefore often rather difficult to reproduce. So surprise turns to astonishment when scientists report on new methods which not only produce outstanding results despite the fact that they use economically priced starting materials but also do not need expensive instrumentation.

Just a simple framework made of polystyrene

This is exactly what Jamil Elias and Laetitia Philippe of Empa's Mechanics of Materials and Nanostructures Laboratory in Thun have succeeded in doing. They used polystyrene spheres as a sort of scaffolding to create three-dimensional nanostructures of semiconducting zinc oxide on various substrates. The two scientists are convinced that the (nanostructured) "rough" but regularly-structured surfaces they have produced this way can be exploited in a range of electronic and optoelectronic devices such as solar cells and also short wave lasers, light emitting diodes and field emission displays.

The scientific world reacted promptly. The paper in which the results were reported was published in January 2010 in the on line edition of Advanced Materials. In the same month it became the most frequently downloaded article, and in April it was selected to appear on the Inside Front Cover of the journal.

The principle behind the process is quite simple. Little spheres of polystyrene a few micrometers in diameter are placed on an electrically conducting surface where they orient themselves in regular patterns. Polystyrene is cheap and ubiquitous - it is widely used as a packaging material (for example for plastic yoghurt pots) or as insulating material in expanded form as a solidified foam.

Hollow bodies with prickles for photovoltaic applications

The tiny balls of polystyrene anchored in this way form the template on which the nanowires are desposited. Jamil Elias has succeeded in using an electrochemical method which himself has developed to vary the conductivity and electrolytic properties of the polystyrene balls in such way that the zinc oxide is deposited on the surface of the microspheres. Over time regular nanowires grow from this surface, and when this process is complete the polystyrene is removed, leaving behind hollow spherical structures with spines - little sea-urchins, as it were! Tightly packed on the underlying substrate, the sea-urchins lend it a three-dimensional structure, thereby increasing considerably its surface area.

This nanostructured surface is predestined for use in photovoltaic applications. The researchers expect that it will have excellent light scattering properties. This means the surface will be able to absorb significantly more sunlight and therefore be able to convert radiated energy into electricity more efficiently. In a project supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), Laetitia Philippe and her research team are developing extremely thin absorbers (ETAs) for solar cells, based these zinc oxide nanostructures.

Literature reference: J. Elias, C. Lévy-Clément, M. Bechelany, J. Michler, G.-Y. Wang, Z. Wang, L. Philippe: Hollow Urchin - like ZnO thin Films by Electrochemical Deposition, Advanced Materials, Volume 22, Issue 14, Pages 1607 - 1612 (April 12, 2010) www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123240975/abstract DOI: 10.1002/adma.200903098

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Dr. Jamil Elias

41-332-283-627
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)

Copyright © EMPA

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

Cool Calculations for Cold Atoms: New theory of universal three-body encounters September 2nd, 2014

Accounting for Biological Aggregation in Heating and Imaging of Magnetic Nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Future solar panels September 2nd, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Cool Calculations for Cold Atoms: New theory of universal three-body encounters September 2nd, 2014

UO-Berkeley Lab unveil new nano-sized synthetic scaffolding technique: Oil-and-water approach from Richmond's UO lab to spark new line of versatile peptoid nanosheets September 2nd, 2014

Accounting for Biological Aggregation in Heating and Imaging of Magnetic Nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Possible Futures

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Academic/Education

New Vice President Takes Helm at CNSE CMOST: Catherine Gilbert To Lead CNSE Children’s Museum of Science and Technology Through Expansion And Relocation August 29th, 2014

RMIT delivers $30m boost to micro and nano-tech August 26th, 2014

SEMATECH and Newly Merged SUNY CNSE/SUNYIT Launch New Patterning Center to Further Advance Materials Development: Center to Provide Access to Critical Tools that Support Semiconductor Technology Node Development August 7th, 2014

Oxford Instruments Asylum Research and the Center for Nanoscale Systems at Harvard University Present a Workshop on AFM Nanomechanical and Nanoelectrical Characterization, Aug. 21-22 August 6th, 2014

Announcements

New synthesis method may shape future of nanostructures, clean energy: Findings advance efficient solar spliting of water into hydrogen fuel September 2nd, 2014

Accounting for Biological Aggregation in Heating and Imaging of Magnetic Nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Future solar panels September 2nd, 2014

Energy

New synthesis method may shape future of nanostructures, clean energy: Findings advance efficient solar spliting of water into hydrogen fuel September 2nd, 2014

Future solar panels September 2nd, 2014

Novel 'butterfly' molecule could build new sensors, photoenergy conversion devices August 28th, 2014

Aspen Aerogels, Inc. to Present at Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference August 27th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

Future solar panels September 2nd, 2014

Novel 'butterfly' molecule could build new sensors, photoenergy conversion devices August 28th, 2014

Competition for Graphene: Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultrafast Charge Transfer in New Family of 2D Semiconductors August 26th, 2014

Eco-friendly 'pre-fab nanoparticles' could revolutionize nano manufacturing: UMass Amherst team invents a way to create versatile, water-soluble nano-modules August 13th, 2014

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE