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
- Volkswagen and Cupra pitch in on solar electric yachton November 27, 2020 at 2:08 pm
Austrian boatbuilder Silent Yachts has already gained a fair bit of attention with its solar electric catamarans. Its just-announced latest model should continue that trend, as it's the result of a ...
- Solar Panel Cleaning Market Future Scope, Demands and Projected Industry Growths to 2025on November 26, 2020 at 6:30 am
Selbyville, Delaware According to Market Study Report LLC adds new research on Solar Panel Cleaning market, which ...
- Short Sellers Favor Alt Energy Stocks, Mixed on Solaron November 25, 2020 at 1:23 pm
Short interest moves among solar and alternative energy stocks were mixed during the two-week reporting period that ended on 13. Of the companies we watch, short interest increased on two solar stocks ...
- With NASA funding, Columbus startup taking its fuel cell invention to the moon – and backon November 25, 2020 at 10:43 am
A Columbus fuel cell startup has won a NASA grant to develop a power source for a future moon base – but really wants to take off back on Earth.
- Natural Gas Under Pressure As A Fossil Fuel; It Is Not A Bridge To Anywhereon November 25, 2020 at 7:39 am
Natural gas is an economic disaster in the US and global demand will fall a record 3% this year. IEA says gas is not a bridging fuel.
- In Our View: Heritage Farm solar panels deserve a lookon November 25, 2020 at 5:03 am
A proposal to place solar panels on a portion of the 78th Street Heritage Farm warrants scrutiny, but the idea is promising.
- Maine started a solar power boom that may be a ‘classic climate mistake’on November 24, 2020 at 5:41 pm
It turns out there’s a downside to Maine’s solar power boom — a potential $160 million annual hit for electricity consumers here.
- Seven reasons a world without fossil fuels is not practicalon November 24, 2020 at 10:37 am
There has been a lot of talk about a "Green New Deal" that will rapidly phase out the use of all fossil fuels. As an investor who has long experience in the energy field, let me say that it is not ...
- Solar Energy Panel Market by Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast to 2026on November 24, 2020 at 3:11 am
Global Solar Energy Panel Market is valued approximately USD XXX Billion in 2019 and is anticipated to grow with a healthy growth rate of more than XX% over the forecast period 2019-2026. A solar ...
- Hydrogen replacing fossil fuels and becoming new source of poweron November 23, 2020 at 1:21 pm
With fossil fuel consumption on the rise, Mayor Rex Parris of Lancaster suggests hydrogen can become the new source of energy.
via Bing News