A team at the HZB Institute for Solar Fuels has developed a process for providing sensitive semiconductors for solar water splitting (“artificial leaves”) with an organic, transparent protective layer. The extremely thin protective layer made of carbon chains is stable, conductive, and covered with catalysing nanoparticles of metal oxides.
These accelerate the splitting of water when irradiated by light. The team was able for the first time to produce a hybrid structure that converts 12 per cent of the incident solar energy into the form of hydrogen. The results have now been published in Advanced Energy Materials.
The “artificial leaf” consists in principle of a solar cell that is combined with further functional layers. These act as electrodes and additionally are coated with catalysts. If the complex system of materials is submerged in water and illuminated, it can decompose water molecules. This causes hydrogen to be generated that stores solar energy in chemical form. However, there are still several problems with the current state of technology. For one thing, sufficient light must reach the solar cell in order to create the voltage for water splitting – despite the additional layers of material. Moreover, the semiconductor materials that the solar cells are generally made of are unable to withstand the typical acidic conditions for very long. For this reason, the artificial leaf needs a stable protective layer that must be simultaneously transparent and conductive.
Catalyst used twice
The team worked with samples of silicon, an n-doped semiconductor material that acts as a simple solar cell to produce a voltage when illuminated. Materials scientist Anahita Azarpira, a doctoral student in Dr. Thomas Schedel-Niedrig’s group, prepared these samples in such a way that carbon-hydrogen chains on the surface of the silicon were formed. “As a next step, I deposited nanoparticles of ruthenium dioxide, a catalyst,” Azarpira explains. This resulted in formation of a conductive and stable polymeric layer only three to four nanometres thick. The reactions in the electrochemical prototype cell were extremely complicated and could only be understood at HZB.
The ruthenium dioxide particles in this new process were being used twice for the first time. In the first place, they provide for the development of an effective organic protective layer. This enables the process for producing protective layers – normally very complicated – to be greatly simplified. Only then does the catalyst do its “normal job” of accelerating the partitioning of water into oxygen and hydrogen.
High efficiency: 12 per cent of the solar energy is converted into hydrogen
The silicon electrode protected with this layer achieves solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of about 12 per cent. In addition, the researchers observed no degradation of the cell – the yield remained constant over the entire 24-hour measurement period.
It is remarkable that an entirely different material has been favoured as an organic protective layer: graphene. This two-dimensional material has been the subject of much discussion, yet up to now could only be employed for electrochemical processes with limited success. Because the novel material could lend itself for the deposition process as well as for other applications, we are trying to acquire international protected property rights”, says Thomas Schedel-Niedrig, head of the group.
The Latest on: Solar fuels
via Google News
The Latest on: Solar fuels
- How to Get a Solar Tax Credit in 2020on November 30, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Why opt for solar energy? You’ll use less energy from your local utility, which can save you a chunk of money, and it’s better for the environment because it reduces demand for fossil fuels. In some ...
- York County solar farm coming along, drone facility may followon November 29, 2019 at 9:55 am
Commissioners said bringing in solar would help power the Peninsula now that the Yorktown power plant is out of commission. Noel said solar was a good use for the fuel farm, which has long sat unused.
- Indonesia: Total Solar Distributed Generation to Solarize the New Airport of the Future Capital Cityon November 26, 2019 at 10:00 pm
"Total Solar DG is proud to be able to support the government in their sustainability commitments ... Total is a major energy player that produces and markets fuels, natural gas and low-carbon ...
- 2 new solar farms are being built in Orangeburg County; 1 will fuel Google data centeron November 21, 2019 at 9:08 pm
Two new solar farms in the Midlands will generate enough power for 30,000 homes in South Carolina and help fuel Google's expanding data center campus in Berkeley County, according to an announcement ...
- 2 new solar farms are being built in Orangeburg County, one will fuel Google data centeron November 21, 2019 at 7:56 am
Two new solar farms in the Midlands will generate enough power for 30,000 homes in South Carolina and fuel Google's data center in Berkeley County, the Central Electric Power Cooperative announced ...
- Bill Gates-backed Heliogen’s solar ‘breakthrough’ could replace fossil fuels in steel and other big-polluting industrieson November 21, 2019 at 4:08 am
Heliogen, a clean energy company supported by Bill Gates and Patrick Soon-Shiong, this week claimed it has achieved a breakthrough in concentrated solar energy that could replace the fossil fuels used ...
- Solar energy breakthrough: fossil fuels replaced with AI & sunlighton November 20, 2019 at 5:38 pm
You might not have heard about Heliogen before, but you will soon if their new technology continues breaking barriers -- the Bill Gates-backed energy startup has successfully concentrated solar energy ...
- Heliogen achieves solar 'breakthrough' that could replace fossil fuels in some industrieson November 20, 2019 at 9:33 am
Something to look forward to: Clean energy company Heliogen has developed a technique for creating concentrated solar energy that could be used to replace fossil fuels in key industrial processes. Its ...
- Bill Gates backed AI solar tech may replace fossil fuels in major industrieson November 19, 2019 at 9:32 pm
The world has been fighting for control of oil for a century now. But, that may soon change. Despite the advent of solar energy and electric cars, fossil fuels remain irreplaceable to industrial ...
- Solar energy 'breakthrough' could replace fossil fuels in some industrieson November 19, 2019 at 8:04 pm
If solar energy is truly going to take over from fossil fuels, it needs to be hot enough for not only generating power, but replacing industrial processes outright -- and even the 1,049F of the best ...
via Bing News