We use a suite of surface science techniques, including X-ray and UV photoemission (XPS, UPS), Inverse photoemission (IPES), dynamic Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED I-V) and Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM), all housed in a ultra-high vacuum station for a complete in-situ investigation of the electronic and geometrical structure of the surface and interface of a range of materials for energy and semiconductor applications.
Examples include Interaction of tellurium on copper surfaces, where copper (Cu) is used as a back contact on cadmium telluride (CdTe) thin film solar cell devices, characterizing high-k oxide stacks on germanium for CMOS device applications and structure of fuel cell electrode surfaces such as platinum and copper, after in-situ reactions in a cell attached to the UHV station.
You can find out more at our Nanomaterials Characterisation Lab website.
Nanomaterials have properties significantly different from their bulk counterparts due to quantum confinement effects. Hybrid nanomaterials, on the other hand, combine different material classes (i.e. metals, semiconductors, organics) on the nanoscale and can exhibit novel or enhanced properties that neither of the components exhibit.
Here at the Institute, we are interested in the preparation and fundamental photophysical and structural characterization of hybrid nanomaterials for applications in renewable energy, nanoplasmonics and nanophotonics. Hybrid metal-semiconductor and organic-semiconductor nanomaterials, for instance, can be used for photocatalytic hydrogen generation and other solar fuels as part of a green and sustainable energy supply.
Ion transport is responsible for the electrochemical properties of energy conversion and storage devices, such as 'Li-ion' batteries (LIB), supercapacitors and solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). The teams are using magnetic resonance techniques to probe the mobility of the charge carriers (eg, Li+ in 'Li-ion' batteries or O2- in SOFCs) and have developed new and faster fast ion conductor materials.
Spincaloritronics (a field where thermoelectric meets spinelectronic) could lead to the design of new devices to recover waste heat, such as the planar spin Seebeck generator. Understanding electrons and holes transport (thermal and electrical) in correlated oxides is vital to enable the development of this technology. The teams are using magneto-transport to probe the electronic structure of correlated oxides and identify the requirements to develop new materials for waste heat recovery.