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Seminars Archive

A New Portrait of Functional Complex Interfaces for Solar Fuel Devices

Francesca Toma (Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)
Fri 15 Jun, at 11:00 - Seminar Room T1

Abstract
For the fabrication of an integrated solar-to-chemical system, different components should be interfaced together in an orchestrated manner. Photoelectrodes need to absorb in the visible range, with a valence and a conduction band suited for the target reaction. Moreover, the presence of catalysts is required to manage the intrinsic energetic hurdle. Herein, we address the study of the major challenges, namely performance, stability, and interfaces to enable fabrication of integrated solar-to chemical systems. Novel scientific directions for the synthesis of functional interfaces and the development of new tools for their characterization will be addressed. Specifically, we will present a methodology for evaluating corrosion mechanisms and apply it to bismuth vanadate, a state-of-the-art photoanode. Analysis of changing morphology and composition under solar water splitting conditions reveals chemical instabilities that are not predicted from thermodynamic considerations of stable solid oxide phases, as represented by the Pourbaix diagram for the system. These findings are confirmed by in situ electrochemical atomic force microscopy (EC-AFM), which reveals that degradation under operating conditions occurs via dissolution of the film, starting at exposed facets of grains in polycrystalline thin films. In addition, we will present the correlation between morphological and functional heterogeneity in this material by photoconductive atomic force microscopy. We demonstrate that contrast in mapping electrical conductance depends on charge transport limitations, and on the contact at the sample/probe interface. We observe no additional recombination sites at grain boundaries, which indicates high defect tolerance in bismuth vanadate. Insights into corrosion mechanisms and nanoscale heterogeneity aid development of protection strategies and provide information on how local functionality affects the macroscopic performance.

(Referer: M. Tormen)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 15:21