UTA researchers devise more efficient materials for solar fuel cellsFebruary 16, 2016
University of Texas at Arlington chemists have developed new high-performing materials for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into useable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas. These "green fuels" can be used to power cars, home appliances or even to store energy in batteries.
"Technologies that simultaneously permit us to remove greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide while harnessing and storing the energy of sunlight as fuel are at the forefront of current research," said Krishnan Rajeshwar, UTA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-founder of the University's Center of Renewable Energy, Science and Technology.
"Our new material could improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar fuel generation, which is not yet economically viable," he added.
The new hybrid platform uses ultra-long carbon nanotube networks with a homogeneous coating of copper oxide nanocrystals. It demonstrates both the high electrical conductivity of carbon nanotubes and the photocathode qualities of copper oxide, efficiently converting light into the photocurrents needed for the photoelectrochemical reduction process.
Morteza Khaledi, dean of the UTA College of Science, said Rajeshwar's work is representative of the University's commitment to addressing critical issues with global environmental impact under the Strategic Plan 2020.
"Dr. Rajeshwar's ongoing, global leadership in research focused on solar fuel generation forms part of UTA's increasing focus on renewable and sustainable energy," Khaledi said. "Creating inexpensive ways to generate fuel from an unwanted gas like carbon dioxide would be an enormous step forward for us all."
For the solar fuel cells project, Rajeshwar worked with Csaba Janáky, an assistant chemistry professor at the University of Szeged in Hungary and Janáky's master's student Egon Kecsenovity. Janaky served as a UTA Marie Curie Fellow from 2011 to 2013.
The findings are the subject of a Feb. 15 minireview, "Electrodeposition of Inorganic Oxide/Nanocarbon Composites: Opportunities and Challenges," published in ChemElectroChem Europe and a companion article in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A on "Decoration of ultra long carbon nanotubes with Cu2O nanocrystals: a hybrid platform for photoelectrochemical CO2 reduction."
"The performance of our hybrid has proved far superior to the properties of the individual materials," Rajeshwar said. "These new hybrid films demonstrate five-fold higher electrical conductivity compared to their copper oxide counterparts, and generate a three-fold increase in the photocurrents needed for the reduction process."
The new material also demonstrates much greater stability during long-term photoelectrolysis than pure copper oxide, which corrodes over time, forming metallic copper.
The research involved developing a multi-step electrodeposition process to ensure that a homogeneous coating of copper oxide nanoparticles were deposited on the carbon nanotube networks. By varying the thickness of the carbon nanotube film and the amount of electrodeposited copper oxide, the researchers were able to optimize the efficiency of this new hybrid material.
Rajeshwar also is working with Brian Dennis, a UTA associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, and Norma Tacconi, a research associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, on a project with NASA to develop improved methods for oxygen recovery and reuse aboard human spacecraft.
The team is designing, building and demonstrating a "microfluidic electrochemical reactor" to recover oxygen from carbon dioxide extracted from cabin air. The prototype will be built over the next months at the Center for Renewable Energy Science and Technology at UTA.
Rajeshwar joined the College of Science in 1983, is a charter member of the UTA Academy of Distinguished Scholars and senior vice president of The Electrochemical Society, an organization representing the nation's premier researchers who are dedicated the advancing solid state, electrochemical science and technology.
He is an expert in photoelectrochemistry, nanocomposites, electrochemistry and conducting polymers, and has received numerous awards, including the Wilfred T. Doherty Award from the American Chemical Society and the Energy Technology Division Research Award of the Electrochemical Society.
Rajeshwar earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, and completed his post-doctoral training in Colorado State University.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie "highest research activity" institution of more than 50,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at http://www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.
University of Texas at Arlington
Related Carbon Nanotubes Articles:
Carbon nanotubes can be used to make very small electronic devices, but they are difficult to handle.
Enhanced single-walled carbon nanotubes offer a more effective and sustainable approach to water treatment and remediation than the standard industry materials -- silicon gels and activated carbon -- according to a paper by RIT researchers John-David Rocha and Reginald Rogers.
A key advancement in the design of high performance carbon-based electronics.
Carbon nanotubes may improve longevity in nuclear reactors.
Using this new method, long carbon nanotubes with high structural integrity, and without contaminants, can be obtained.
Engineers at MIT have devised a new technique for trapping hard-to-detect molecules, using forests of carbon nanotubes.
A big barrier to building useful electronics with carbon nanotubes has always been the fact that when they're arrayed into films, a certain portion of them will act more like metals than semiconductors.
Carbon nanotube membranes have a bright future in addressing the world's growing need to purify water from the sea, researchers say in a study published in the journal Desalination.
Researchers have demonstrated a new method to improve the reliability and performance of transistors and circuits based on carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has long been considered by scientists as one of the most promising successors to silicon for smaller, faster and cheaper electronic devices.
For the first time, researchers at Empa and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research have succeeded in 'growing' single-wall carbon nanotubes with a single predefined structure -- and hence with identical electronic properties.
Related Carbon Nanotubes Reading:
Carbon Nanotube and Graphene Device Physics
by H.-S. Philip Wong (Author), Deji Akinwande (Author)
Explaining the properties and performance of practical nanotube devices and related applications, this is the first introductory textbook on the subject. All the fundamental concepts are introduced, so that readers without an advanced scientific background can follow all the major ideas and results. Additional topics covered include nanotube transistors and interconnects, and the basic physics of graphene. Problem sets at the end of every chapter allow readers to test their knowledge of the material covered and gain a greater understanding of the analytical skill sets developed in the text.... View Details
Carbon Nanotube Science: Synthesis, Properties and Applications
by Peter J. F. Harris (Author)
Carbon nanotubes represent one of the most exciting research areas in modern science. These molecular-scale carbon tubes are the stiffest and strongest fibres known, with remarkable electronic properties, and potential applications in a wide range of fields. Carbon Nanotube Science is the most concise, accessible book for the field, presenting the basic knowledge that graduates and researchers need to know. Based on the successful Carbon Nanotubes and Related Structures, this new book focuses solely on carbon nanotubes, covering the major advances made in recent years in this rapidly... View Details
Carbon Nanotubes: Basic Concepts and Physical Properties
by Stephanie Reich (Author), Christian Thomsen (Author), Janina Maultzsch (Author)
Carbon nanotubes are exceptionally interesting from a fundamental research point of view. Many concepts of one-dimensional physics have been verified experimentally such as electron and phonon confinement or the one-dimensional singularities in the density of states; other 1D signatures are still under debate, such as Luttinger-liquid behavior. Carbon nanotubes are chemically stable, mechanically very strong, and conduct electricity. For this reason, they open up new perspectives for various applications, such as nano-transistors in circuits, field-emission displays, artificial muscles, or... View Details
An Introduction to Graphene and Carbon Nanotubes
by John E. Proctor (Author), Daniel Melendrez Armada (Author), Aravind Vijayaraghavan (Author)
Carbon nanotubes and graphene have been the subject of intense scientific research since their relatively recent discoveries. This book introduces the reader to the science behind these rapidly developing fields, and covers both the fundamentals and latest advances. Uniquely, this book covers the topics in a pedagogical manner suitable for undergraduate students. The book also uses the simple systems of nanotubes and graphene as models to teach concepts such as molecular orbital theory, tight binding theory and the Laue treatment of diffraction.
Suitable for undergraduate students... View Details
Carbon Nanotubes: Properties and Applications
by Michael J. O'Connell (Author)
Since their discovery more than a decade ago, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have held scientists and engineers in captive fascination, seated on the verge of enormous breakthroughs in areas such as medicine, electronics, and materials science, to name but a few. Taking a broad look at CNTs and the tools used to study them, Carbon Nanotubes: Properties and Applications comprises the efforts of leading nanotube researchers led by Michael O’Connell, protégé of the late father of nanotechnology, Richard Smalley. Each chapter is a self-contained treatise on various aspects of CNT synthesis,... View Details
Carbon Nanotube Electronics (Integrated Circuits and Systems)
by Ali Javey (Editor), Jing Kong (Editor)
This book provides a complete overview of the field of carbon nanotube electronics. It covers materials and physical properties, synthesis and fabrication processes, devices and circuits, modeling, and finally novel applications of nanotube-based electronics. The book introduces fundamental device physics and circuit concepts of 1-D electronics. At the same time it provides specific examples of the state-of-the-art nanotube devices.View Details
Physical and Chemical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes
by Lindy Bowman (Editor)
This book presents a detailed account on the various physical and chemical properties of carbon nanotubes. These are tube like quasi-one-dimensional structures of nanometer-scale diameter made up of rolled graphene sheets. Over the past two decades, carbon nanotubes have drawn noteworthy attention of chemists, electronic device engineers, material scientists and physicists due to their outstanding electronic, chemical, optical, structural and mechanical properties. Carbon nanotube researches, particularly the ones focusing on industrial applications, are fast becoming more significant. The... View Details
Aligned Carbon Nanotubes: Physics, Concepts, Fabrication and Devices (NanoScience and Technology)
by Zhifeng Ren (Author), Yucheng Lan (Author), Yang Wang (Author)
This book gives a survey of the physics and fabrication of carbon nanotubes and their applications in optics, electronics, chemistry and biotechnology. It focuses on the structural characterization of various carbon nanotubes, fabrication of vertically or parallel aligned carbon nanotubes on substrates or in composites, physical properties for their alignment, and applications of aligned carbon nanotubes in field emission, optical antennas, light transmission, solar cells, chemical devices, bio-devices, and many others. Major fabrication methods are illustrated in detail, particularly the... View Details
Carbon Filaments and Nanotubes: Common Origins, Differing Applications? (Nato Science Series E:)
by L.P. Biró (Editor), Carlos A. Bernardo (Editor), G.G. Tibbetts (Editor), Ph. Lambin (Editor)
Carbon filament, vapor grown carbon fibers and carbon nanotubes have been discovered to have remarkable properties, opening they way for their use in intriguing and novel applications in electronics, chemistry and materials science. There are many similarities between nanotubes and filaments, leading many researchers to critically compare the two materials, their production, and potential applications. The two materials are compared and contrasted in depth in the present book, which is a comprehensive review of current research activity, growth mechanisms, physical properties, industrial... View Details
Carbon Nanotubes: Science and Applications
by M. Meyyappan (Editor)
Carbon nanotubes, with their extraordinary mechanical and unique electronic properties, have garnered much attention in the past five years. With a broad range of potential applications including nanoelectronics, composites, chemical sensors, biosensors, microscopy, nanoelectromechanical systems, and many more, the scientific community is more motivated than ever to move beyond basic properties and explore the real issues associated with carbon nanotube-based applications.
Taking a comprehensive look at this diverse and dynamic subject, Carbon Nanotubes: Science and... View Details