Supervisors: Prof. Dr. P.E. de Jongh and Dr. C. de Mello Donegá
This project is part of the Multiscale Center for Energy Conversion (MCEC).
The use of sunlight to produce fuels is emerging as an important strategy to develop a sustainable and environmentally benign economy. However, the quest for systems to efficiently produce solar fuels poses major challenges.
In this project membranes based on self-assembled chalcogenide semiconductor nanocrystals are investigated for their use in photocatalytic water splitting. This approach uniquely allows to tune the nanoscale properties of individual nanocrystal building blocks for optimum light capture and charge separation, while on the larger scale stable superstructures can be formed by self-assembly with intrinsically separated reduction and oxidation functionalities.
In the first stage of the project, nanocrystals with different sizes, shapes, compositions and hetero-architectures will be synthesized and studied by advanced structural characterization and optical spectroscopy. The project focuses on Cu2S and CuInS2 (hetero)nanocrystals, since these materials consist of less toxic elements and have not yet been studied in detail. Subsequently, (photo)catalytic properties of the synthesized nanocrystals will be studied to understand the catalytic properties and evaluate if co-catalysts might be needed. Eventually the self-organization properties of the nanocrystals will be studied in order to develop strategies to prepare functional nanocrystal superstructures.