Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
  • 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
    Implicit and explicit solvent models for modelling a bifunctional arene ruthenium hydrogen-storage catalyst: a classical and ab initio molecular simulation study
    Classical and ab initio, density functional theory- and semiempirical-based molecular simulation, including molecular dynamics, have been carried out to compare and contrast the effect of explicit and implicit solvation representation of tetrahydrofuran (THF) solvent on the structural, energetic, and dynamical properties of a novel bifunctional arene ruthenium catalyst embedded therein. Particular scrutiny was afforded to hydrogen-bonding and energetic interactions with the THF liquid. It was found that the presence of explicit THF solvent molecules is required to capture an accurate picture of the catalyst's structural properties, particularly in view of the importance of hydrogen bonding with the surrounding THF molecules. This has implications for accurate modeling of the reactivity of the catalyst.
      315Scopus© Citations 5
  • Publication
    Electrochemical characterization of NiO electrodes deposited via a scalable powder microblasting technique
    In this contribution a novel powder coating processing technique (microblasting) for the fabrication of nickel oxide (NiOx) coatings is reported. ~1.2 μm thick NiOx coatings are deposited at 20 mm2 s−1 by the bombardment of the NiOx powder onto a Ni sheet using an air jet at a speed of more than 180 m s−1. Microblast deposited NiOx coatings can be prepared at a high processing rate, do not need further thermal treatment. Therefore, this scalable method is time and energy efficient. The mechano-chemical bonding between the powder particles and substrate results in the formation of strongly adherent NiOx coatings. Microstructural analyses were carried out using SEM, the chemical composition and coatings orientation were determined by XPS and XRD, respectively. The electroactivity of the microblast deposited NiOx coatings was compared with that of NiOx coatings obtained by sintering NiOx nanoparticles previously sprayed onto Ni sheets. In the absence of a redox mediator in the electrolyte, the reduction current of microblast deposited NiOx coatings, when analyzed in anhydrous environment, was two times larger than that produced by higher porosity NiOx nanoparticles coatings of the same thickness obtained through spray coating followed by sintering. Under analogous experimental conditions thin layers of NiOx obtained by using the sol–gel method, ultrasonic spray- and electro-deposition show generally lower current density with respect to microblast samples of the same thickness. The electrochemical reduction of NiOx coatings is controlled by the bulk characteristics of the oxide and the relatively ordered structure of microblast NiOx coatings with respect to sintered NiOx nanoparticles here considered, is expected to increase the electron mobility and ionic charge diffusion lengths in the microblast samples. Finally, the increased level of adhesion of the microblast film on the metallic substrate affords a good electrical contact at the metal/metal oxide interface, and constitutes another reason in support of the choice of microblast as low-cost and scalable deposition method for oxide layers to be employed in electrochemical applications.
      670Scopus© Citations 29
  • 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
    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.
      603Scopus© Citations 16
  • 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.
      7258Scopus© Citations 58
  • 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.
      1419Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    Carbon-Doped TiO2 and Carbon, Tungsten-Codoped TiO2 through Sol-Gel Processes in the Presence of Melamine Borate: Reflections through Photocatalysis
    A series of C-doped, W-doped, and C,Wcodoped TiO2 samples have been prepared using modified sol-gel techniques. Reproducible inexpensive C-doping arises from the presence of melamine borate in a sol-gel mixture, whereas W-doping is from the addition of tungstic acid to the sol. The materials have been characterized using elemental analysis, N2 physisorption (BET), thermogravimetric analysis, X-ray diffraction, Raman, X-ray photoelectron, UV-vis spectroscopies, and photocatalytic activity measurements. Doping C and W independently results in an increased absorbance in the visible region of the spectrum with a synergistic effect in increased absorbance when both elements are codoped. The increased visible-light absorbance of the W-doped or codoped materials is not reflected in photocatalytic activity. Visiblelight- induced photocatalytic activity of C-doped material was superior to that of an undoped catalyst, paving the way for its application under only visible-light irradiation conditions. A significant fraction of the spectral red shift commonly observed with doped catalysts might be due to the formation of color centers as a result of defects associated with oxygen vacancies, and bandgap-related narrowing or intragap localization of dopant levels are not the only factors responsible for enhanced visible-light absorption in doped photocatalysts. Furthermore, bandgap narrowing through increases in the energy of the valence band may actually decrease photo-oxidation activity through a curtailment of one route of oxidation.
      871Scopus© Citations 108
  • Publication
    Serendipity following attempts to prepare C-doped rutile TiO2
    Attempts to mimic the band gap narrowing seen in anatase TiO2 following C-doping of the lattice where the C arose from a melamine borate precursor were made in situations where the sol-gel mixture was directed towards rutile formation. The formed materials were characterised using XRD, BET, UV-Vis spectroscopy, XPS and TEM and their activities in promoting the photo-degradation of 4-chlorophenol were analysed. It was found that carbon was not doped into the lattice (in contrast to the situations where the sol-gel mixture was directed towards the precipitation of anatase TiO2). In spite of how common reports of the preparation of C-doped TiO2 using sol-gel processes have been, the presence of carbon dopant precursors in a crystallising sol does not necessarily result in the incorporation of C dopants within the final crystalline material, i.e. the nature of the condensing sol is also important. The presence of melamine borate did however increase the proportion of rutile in the final mixture (indeed in the presence of melamine borate the pure rutile phase was formed) and also resulted in materials with higher surface areas (as measured using BET). Furthermore, TEM has shown that rutile TiO2 condensed in the presence of melamine borate had a much more distinct rod-like shape than that condensed in its absence (the latter being more spherical in shape). These materials, notwithstanding the absence of any dopant effect, demonstrated enhanced photocatalytic activity when compared with analogous materials prepared in the absence of melamine borate and this effect is ascribed to both their relatively larger surface areas and their specific shape. Therefore, we have serendipitously come across a method for improving the performance of rutile photocatalysts while searching for a method to generate C-doped rutile TiO2.
      480Scopus© Citations 11
  • Publication
    Visible light active C-doped titanate nanotubes prepared via alkaline hydrothermal treatment of C-doped nanoparticulate TiO2: Photo-electrochemical and photocatalytic properties
    Carbon-doped titanate nanotubes (C-TNT) were formed via alkaline hydrothermal treatment of a TiO2 nanoparticulate material pre-doped with carbon. Attempts to form C and W co-doped titanate nanotubes using analogous C and W co-doped nanoparticulate materials were unsuccessful. Physical characterisations, such as X-ray diffraction, N2 physisorption and Transmission Electron Microscopy, confirmed the formation of titanate nanotubes ~7 nm in diameter and hundreds of nm in length with increased surface areas relative to the nanoparticulate precursors. X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy confirmed the retention of substitutional carbon dopant and the exclusion of tungsten dopant from the doped TNT materials. Converting doped (or undoped TiO2) into C-TNT (or TNT) slightly increases the material’s bandgap but the C-TNT material (in contrast to TNT and undoped TiO2) absorbs into the visible region of the spectrum. C-doped and un-doped titanate nanotube materials were more active in promoting the photo degradation of 4-chlorophenol under visible light than their analogous nanoparticulate precursors. C-TNT was the most photocatalytically active material tested. However, photocurrent response measurements showed C-TNT to be less effective at generating current following irradiation than both its nanoparticulate analogue and nanoparticulate P25 when screen printed onto electrode surfaces. We ascribe this to non-optimal alignment of the TNTs on the electrode surface.
      624Scopus© Citations 33