Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
  • Publication
    A TD-DFT study of the effects of structural variations on the photochemistry of polyene dyes
    We report a TD-DFT study of three polyene dyes namely: NKX-2553, NKX-2554 and NKX-2569 in isolation as well as upon their adsorption on TiO2 nanoparticles. By choosing closely related dyes we wish to focus on the effects of structural variations on the absorption and charge-transfer properties of these systems. These three dyes show a non-intuitive trend in their respective efficiencies and therefore, were chosen to shed light on the structural components that contribute to this behaviour. Although, NKX-2554 has an additional donor group, it is less efficient compared to the simpler NKX-2553 dye that contains only one donor group. When NKX-2554 structure is slightly modified by lengthening the linker-group, one obtains the most efficient dye among this set, namely, NKX-2569. In this work, we show that the changes in the donor moiety has very little or no effect on the efficiency of these dyes as can be seen in the case of NKX-2553 and NKX-2554. On the other hand, the improved performance of NKX-2569-titania complex can be understood to be a result of the longer linker group. A better understanding of these properties within different dye-titania complexes is important for the continual improvement of DSSCs. In this regards, this study will serve to provide guidelines to improve efficiencies of novel organic dyes.
      792Scopus© Citations 39
  • Publication
    Deposition and characterization of NiOx coatings by magnetron sputtering for application in dye-sensitized solar cells
    Nickel oxide (NiOx) due to its p-type nature has considerable potential as a photocathodic material in energy conversion devices such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). However,NiOx has not been extensively used for this application mainly because of low light harvesting efficiency due to limited dye loading on the coatings. In this study NiOx coatings were deposited using the dc- magnetron sputtering technique from a nickel target in an argon/oxygen plasma. One of the advantages of magnetron sputtering is the ability to control coating properties such as mechanical performance and chemical stoichiometry. It is anticipated that by enhancing the interconnectivity between NiOx particles and by optimizing surface roughness, it may be possible to enhance dye adsorption and increase its ability to absorb visible light. NiOx coatings were deposited onto both silicon wafer and indium tin oxide (ITO) covered glass substrates. The influence of deposition parameters such as pressure, nickel target current and substrate bias voltage were correlated with the coating properties of surface roughness, thickness, crystallographic structure and surface energy. This evaluation was carried out using optical profilometry, spectroscopic ellipsometry, XRD and contact angle measurements respectively. It was observed that deposited coating morphology and roughness were significantly influenced by the deposition parameters. For example increasing the deposition pressure from 0.20 to 0.40 Pa led to an increase in surface roughness (Ra) from 1.6 to 3 nm. Associated with this increase in roughness the surface energy increased from 36 to 61 mN/mm. The NiOx coatings were spectrally sensitized with Rucomplex dye containing -COOH groups as anchoring moieties. The dye adsorptions on NiOx coatings, deposited on ITO substrates, were investigated in transmission mode using UV-vis spectroscopy in the range of 400 – 800 nm. It was observed that for the coatings with the highest surface energy, there was an increase of up to 60 % in the level of dye adsorption. The electroactivity of the NiOx thin films deposited on Ni substrate at 0.4 Pa has been verified through the occurrence of redox processes of reduction and lithium intercalation within the oxide film.
      7260Scopus© Citations 58
  • Publication
    Achieving enhanced DSSC performance by microwave plasma incorporation of carbon into TiO2 photoelectrodes
    The photoactivity of carbon-incorporated titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been widely reported. This study involves a novel approach to the incorporation of carbon into TiO2 through the use of microwave plasma processing. The process involved thermally treating printed TiO2 nanoparticle coatings in a microwave-induced argon-oxygen plasma containing low concentrations of methane. The resulting deposited carbon layer was characterized using XRD, XPS, Raman, UV–vis, ellipsometry, and optical profilometry. It was found that the methane gas was dissociated in the microwave plasma into its carbon species, which were then deposited as a nm-thick layer onto the TiO2 coatings, most likely in the form of graphite. The photovoltaic performances of both the TiO2 and the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were assessed through J-V and IPCE measurements of the N719-sensitized solar cells using the titania as their photoanodes. Up to a 72% improvement in the maximum power density (Pd-max) was observed for the carbon-incorporated TiO2 samples as compared to the TiO2, onto which no carbon was added. This improvement was found to be mainly associated with an increase in the short-circuit current density (Jsc), but independent from the open-circuit voltage (Voc), the filter factor (FF), and the level of dye adsorption. Possible contributory factors to the improved performance of the carbon-incorporated TiO2 were the enhanced electron conductivity and electron lifetime, both of which were elucidated through electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). When the surface layer was examined using XPS, the optimal carbon content on the TiO2 coating surface was found to be 8.4%, beyond which there was a reduction in the DSSC efficiency.
      606Scopus© Citations 16
  • Publication
    Application of a novel microwave plasma treatment for the sintering of nickel oxide coatings for use in dye-sensitized solar cells
    In this study the use of microwave plasma sintering of nickel oxide (NiOx) particles for use as p-type photoelectrode coatings in dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) is investigated. NiOx was chosen as the photocathode for this application due to its stability, wide band gap and p-type nature. For high light conversion efficiency DSSCs require a mesoporous structure exhibiting a high surface area. This can be achieved by sintering particles of NiOx onto a conductive substrate. In this study the use of both 2.45 GHz microwave plasma and conventional furnace sintering were compared for the sintering of the NiOx particles. Coatings 1 to 2.5 μm thick were obtained from the sintered particles (mean particle size of 50 nm) on 3 mm thick fluorine-doped tin oxide (FTO) coated glass substrates. Both the furnace and microwave plasma sintering treatments were carried out at ~ 450 °C over a 5 minute period. Dye sensitization was carried out using Erythrosin B and the UV-vis absorption spectra of the NiOx coatings were compared. A 44% increase in the level of dye adsorption was obtained for the microwave plasma sintered samples as compared to that obtained through furnace treatments. While the photovoltaic performance of the DSSC fabricated using the microwave plasma treated NiOx coatings exhibited a tenfold increase in the conversion efficiency in comparison to the furnace treated samples. This enhanced performance was associated with the difference in the mesoporous structure of the sintered NiOx coatings.
      2416Scopus© Citations 44
  • Publication
    Dynamical and energetic properties of hydrogen and hydrogen–tetrahydrofuran clathrate hydrates
    Classical equilibrium molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have been performed to investigate the dynamical and energetic properties in hydrogen and mixed hydrogen-tetrahydrofuran sII hydrates at 30 and 200K and 0.05 kbar, and also at intermediate temperatures, using SPC/E and TIP4P-2005 water models. The potential model is found to have a large impact on overall density, with the TIP4P-2005 systems being on average 1 % more dense than their SPC/E counterparts, due to the greater guest-host interaction energy. For the lightly-filled mixed H2-THF system, in which there is single H2 occupation of the small cage (1s1l), we find that the largest contribution to the interaction energy of both types of guest is the van der Waals component with the surrounding water molecules in the constituent cavities. For the more densely-filled mixed H2-THF system, in which there is double H2 occupation in the small cage (2s1l), we find that there is no dominant component (i.e., van der Waals or Coulombic) in the H2 interaction energy with the rest of the system, but for the THF molecules, the dominant contribution is again the van der Waals interaction with the surrounding cage-water molecules; again, the Coulombic component increases in importance with increasing temperature. The lightly-filled pure H2 hydrate (1s4l) system exhibits a similar pattern vis-à-vis the H2 interaction energy as for the lightly-filled mixed H2-THF system, and for the more densely-filled pure H2 system (2s4l), there is no dominant component of interaction energy, due to the multiple occupancy of the cavities. By consideration of Kubic harmonics, there is some evidence of preferential alignment of the THF molecules, particularly at 200 K; this was found to arise at higher temperatures due to transient hydrogen bonding of the oxygen atom in THF molecules with the surrounding cage-water molecules.
      423Scopus© Citations 20
  • Publication
    Evaluation of microwave plasma oxidation treatments for the fabrication of photoactive un-doped and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings
    The photoactivity of both un-doped and carbon-doped titanium dioxide (TiO2) coatings has been widely reported. In this paper, the use of a microwave plasma as a novel oxidation treatment for the fabrication of these coatings is evaluated. The photoactivity performance of the microwave plasma-formed coatings is benchmarked against those fabricated through air furnace oxidation as well as those deposited using reactive magnetron sputtering. The un-doped and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings were prepared respectively by microwave plasma-oxidizing titanium metal sheets and sputter deposited titanium carbide thin films. The resulting oxides were characterized using XPS, XRD, FEG-SEM, and optical profilometry. The oxide layer thicknesses achieved over the 15 to 45 minute oxidation times were in the range of 0.15 to 3.44 µm. These coatings were considerably thicker than those obtained by air furnace oxidation. The microwave plasma-formed oxides also exhibited significantly higher surface roughness values compared with the magnetron-sputtered coatings. The photoactivity performance of both un-doped and carbon-doped coatings was assessed using photocurrent density measurements. Comparing the un-doped TiO2 coatings, it was observed that those obtained using the microwave plasma oxidation route yielded photocurrent density measurements that were 4.3 times higher than the TiO2 coatings of the same thickness that were deposited by sputtering. The microwave plasma-oxidized titanium carbide coatings did not perform as well as the un-doped TiO2 probably due to the presence of un-oxidized carbide in the coatings, which reduced their photoactivity.
      1421Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    Towards the design of novel boron- and nitrogen-substituted ammonia-borane and bifunctional arene ruthenium catalysts for hydrogen storage
    Electronic-structure density functional theory calculations have been performed to construct the potential energy surface for H2 release from ammonia-borane, with a novel bifunctional cationic ruthenium catalyst based on the sterically bulky β-diketiminato ligand (Schreiber et al., ACS Catal. 2012, 2, 2505). The focus is on identifying both a suitable substitution pattern for ammonia-borane optimized for chemical hydrogen storage and allowing for low-energy dehydrogenation. The interaction of ammonia-borane, and related substituted ammonia-boranes, with a bifunctional η6-arene ruthenium catalyst and associated variants is investigated for dehydrogenation. Interestingly, in a number of cases, hydride-proton transfer from the substituted ammonia-borane to the catalyst undergoes a barrier-less process in the gas phase, with rapid formation of hydrogenated catalyst in the gas phase. Amongst the catalysts considered, N,N-difluoro ammonia-borane and N-phenyl ammonia-borane systems resulted in negative activation energy barriers. However, these types of ammonia-boranes are inherently thermodynamically unstable and undergo barrierless decay in the gas phase. Apart from N,N-difluoro ammonia-borane, the interaction between different types of catalyst and ammonia borane was modeled in the solvent phase, revealing free-energy barriers slightly higher than those in the gas phase. Amongst the various potential candidate Ru-complexes screened, few are found to differ in terms of efficiency for the dehydrogenation (rate-limiting) step. To model dehydrogenation more accurately, a selection of explicit protic solvent molecules was considered, with the goal of lowering energy barriers for H-H recombination. It was found that primary (1°), 2°, and 3° alcohols are the most suitable to enhance reaction rate. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
      447Scopus© Citations 6
  • Publication
    Photolytic water oxidation catalyzed by a molecular carbene iridium complex
    The complex IrCl2(Cp*)(trz) (trz = triazolylidene), 2, was prepared from readily available 1,3-dimethyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3-triazolium salt. Under basic conditions, the C-bound phenyl group readily cyclometalates, while under acidic conditions, cyclometalation is reversed. The sensitivity of the Caryl–Ir bond but not the Ctrz–Ir bond towards acidolysis provided a basis for using 2 as a catalyst in CeIV-mediated water oxidation. The catalytic activity is characterized by a robust catalytic cycle, affording excellent turnover numbers (TON > 20 000). Under cerium-free conditions and in the presence of hematite as a photoelectrode, light-induced activity was observed. The photoelectrochemical reaction is strongly pH-dependent, which requires pH adjustments when running multiple cycle experiments to regenerate the catalytic activity. Analogous chelating complexes display better stability and higher catalytic activity than the monodentate complex 2.
      411Scopus© Citations 92
  • Publication
    Conversion of amorphous TiO2 coatings into their crystalline form using a novel microwave plasma treatment
    Crystalline titanium dioxide (TiO2) coatings have been widely used in photo-electrochemical solar cell applications. In this study, TiO2 and carbon-doped TiO2 coatings were deposited onto unheated titanium and silicon wafer substrates using a DC closed-field magnetron sputtering system. The resultant coatings had an amorphous structure and a post-deposition heat treatment is required to convert this amorphous structure into the photoactive crystalline phase(s) of TiO2. This study investigates the use of a microwave plasma heat treatment as a means of achieving this crystalline conversion. The treatment involved placing the sputtered coatings into a 2.45 GHz microwave-induced nitrogen plasma where they were heated to approximately 550°C. It was observed that for treatment times as short as 1 minute, the 0.25-µm thick coatings were converted into the anatase crystalline phase of TiO2. The coatings were further transformed into the rutile crystalline phase after treatments at higher temperatures. The doping of TiO2 with carbon was found to result in a reduction in this phase transformation temperature, with higher level of doping (up to 5.8% in this study) leading to lower anatase-to-rutile transition temperature. The photoactivity performance of both doped and un-doped coatings heat-treated using both furnace and microwave plasma was compared. The carbon-doped TiO2 exhibited a 29% increase in photocurrent density compared to that observed for the un-doped coating. Comparing carbon-doped coatings heat-treated using the furnace and microwave plasma, it was observed that the latter yielded a 19% increase in photocurrent density. This enhanced performance may be correlated to the differences in the coatings’ surface morphology and band gap energy, both of which influence the coatings’ photoabsorption efficiency.
      2453Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Study of translational, librational and intra-molecular motion of adsorbed liquid water monolayers at various TiO2 interfaces
    Equilibrium classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations have been performed to investigate the vibrational motion of water in contact with rutile-(110), rutile-(100), rutile-(001), anatase-(101) and anatase-(001) surfaces at room temperature (300 K). The vibrational density of states (VDOS) of the first adsorbed monolayer of liquid water has been analysed for each surface. These have been compared with reported experimental INS values involving rutile and anatase polymorph surfaces, along with ab initio MD results. It is observed that good qualitative agreement is obtained for the rutile-(110) and the anatase-(101) surfaces with the corresponding experimental VDOS. A significant contribution from librational dynamics is found for planar rutile surfaces, but no such demarcation is seen in the experimental VDOS.
      687Scopus© Citations 25