Energy

Securing a sustainable supply of energy is one of the great challenges of the 21st century. The reasons for this need are manifold and include limited supplies of fossil fuel, and the aim to reduce green house gas emissions. While any future green energy mix most likely will have contributions from a number of different renewable sources, our research focusses on solar fuels, photovoltaics, thermophotovoltaics, and related materials.

Dr Vin Dhanak Department of Physics, Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy
Prof Ken Durose Department of Physics, Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy
Dr Frank Jaeckel Department of Physics, Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy
Dr Tim Veal Department of Physics, Stephenson Institute for Renewable Energy

 

Colloidal quantum dots in cuvette under UV illumination

Nanomaterials for Solar Energy Conversion

Nanomaterials offer widely tuneable optical and electronic properties that can be exploited for energy conversion.

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Solar energy, due to its abundance and wide availability, will certainly play an important role in the future energy mix. In our research we explore novel ways of using nanomaterials to convert solar energy.  In particular, we aim to take advantage of the widely tuneable optical and electronic properties of quantum confined materials for energy conversion. We are interested in the preparation, advanced optical characterisation, and application of these materials.

Co-catalyst decorated semiconductor nanocrystals for instance can be used in the photocatalytic generation of solar fuels such hydrogen or carbon dioxide reduction products (methane, methanol etc.). A detailed fundamental understanding of their optical, electronic properties and charge carrier dynamics is important for the design and future applications of these materials. We are also interested in developing non-toxic and earth abundant nanomaterials such as pyrite nanocrystals for energy conversion applications. Such materials are particularly attractive for large scale applications.

Personnel:  Dr Frank Jaeckel

Scanning tunnling microscopy image of Tellurium on Cu(111).

Semiconductor Material Physics

Our research in this area focusses on the growth, characterisation and modelling of the optical, electrical, structural, doping, defect and band structure properties of novel semiconductors.

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In particular, we are intersted in materials which fall into the following categories:

i) Sustainable earth abundant semiconductor thin films for solar photovoltaics and photocatalysis. For example: SnS, ZnSnN2, and CuSbS2; quarternary kesterite semiconductors such as Cu2ZnSnS(e)4.

ii) Highly mismatched III-V semiconductors containing N and Bi, particularly those based on GaSb and InSb for thermophotovoltaics, mid-infrared (2-5 µm) and far-infrared (8-14 µm) applications.

iii) Transparent conducting oxides, such as ZnO, Ga2O3, CdO, In2O3 and SnO2.

Personnel:  Dr Vin Dhanak, Professor Ken Durose, Dr Tim Veal