Skoltech imaging resources used in international experiment with new photocatalysts

February 01, 2021

Skoltech researchers helped their colleagues from Japan, Germany, the United States, and China study the crystal structure and optical properties of a new class of two-dimensional compounds, which can be used as effective visible-light-responsive photocatalysts for energy and chemical conversion. They used the Advanced Imaging Core Facility equipment for imaging and structural analysis. The paper was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

One potential use of photocatalysts, so-called water splitting can help substitute climate-warming fossil fuels with more environmentally friendly hydrogen. For this process to work on a large scale, engineers need better-designed catalysts that can utilize the solar spectrum effectively.

Skoltech Professor and Director of the Center for Energy Science and Technology Artem Abakumov and research scientist of the Advanced Imaging Core Facility Maria Kirsanova were part of an international collaboration that studied layered oxychlorides of the type Bi2MO4Cl, where M can stand for yttrium (Y), lanthanum (La), or bismuth (Bi).

"Based on AICF facilities, the Skoltech team performed high-resolution transmission electron microscopy imaging and analysis of local structural features that are responsible for high photocatalytic activity of Bi2MO4Cl compounds," Kirsanova explained.

Skoltech Advanced Imaging Core Facility has the most advanced equipment for conducting research using electron microscopy, both scanning and transmission, including the transmission electron microscope Titan Themis Z.

"The capabilities of the transmission electron microscope Titan Themis Z make it possible to investigate various materials, including photocatalysts, for example, you can visualize the crystal lattice of a material and the defects in crystal lattice using scanning transmission electron microscopy technique. The task of visualizing a crystal lattice is not the most trivial one, so the most important thing for us is the availability of employees with the necessary qualifications and with an extensive background, which is necessary for the interpretation of experimental results. In this regard, we pay great attention to improving the qualifications of our employees, since progress does not stand still and new techniques in the field of electron microscopy appear every year," Yaroslava Shakhova, head of AICF, explained.

By inserting a MO2 layer in the conventional Bi2O2 layer, the researchers effectively increased the number of dimensions of this material from one to two; they hypothesize that it may be interesting to go further, from 2D to 3D, by thickening the fluorite block of the compound. This can improve both the photocatalytic properties and other remarkable properties observed in this class of compounds, such as ferroelectricity (spontaneous electric polarization that can be reversed with an external magnetic field).
Other organizations involved in this research include Kyoto University; Aachen University; Center for Neutron Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Hoffmann Institute of Advanced Materials, Shenzhen Polytechnic; and Osaka University.

Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech)

Related Electron Microscopy Articles from Brightsurf:

Ultracompact metalens microscopy breaks FOV constraints
As reported in Advanced Photonics, their metalens-integrated imaging device (MIID) exhibits an ultracompact architecture with a working imaging distance in the hundreds of micrometers.

Attosecond boost for electron microscopy
A team of physicists from the University of Konstanz and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany have achieved attosecond time resolution in a transmission electron microscope by combining it with a continuous-wave laser -- new insights into light-matter interactions.

Microscopy beyond the resolution limit
The Polish-Israeli team from the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw and the Weizmann Institute of Science has made another significant achievement in fluorescent microscopy.

Electron cryo-microscopy: Using inexpensive technology to produce high-resolution images
Biochemists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have used a standard electron cryo-microscope to achieve surprisingly good images that are on par with those taken by far more sophisticated equipment.

Limitations of super-resolution microscopy overcome
The smallest cell structures can now be imaged even better: The combination of two microscopy methods makes fluorescence imaging with molecular resolution possible for the first time.

High-end microscopy refined
New details are known about an important cell structure: For the first time, two Würzburg research groups have been able to map the synaptonemal complex three-dimensionally with a resolution of 20 to 30 nanometres.

Developing new techniques to improve atomic force microscopy
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new method to improve the noise associated with nanoscale chemical imaging using atomic force microscopy.

New discovery advances optical microscopy
New Illinois ECE research is advancing the field of optical microscopy, giving the field a critical new tool to solve challenging problems across many fields of science and engineering including semiconductor wafer inspection, nanoparticle sensing, material characterization, biosensing, virus counting, and microfluidic monitoring.

A pigment from ancient Egypt to modern microscopy
Egyptian blue is one of the oldest manmade colour pigments.

Ball-and-chain inactivation of ion channels visualized by cryo-electron microscopy
Ion channels, which allow potassium and sodium ions to flow in and out of cells, are crucial in neuronal 'firing' in the central nervous system and for brain and heart function.

Read More: Electron Microscopy News and Electron Microscopy Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to