Understanding the Synthesis, Performance, and Passivation of Metal Oxide Photocathodes Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Flynn, Cory
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry
  • Metal oxides are ubiquitous in semiconductor technologies for their ease of synthesis, chemical stability, and tunable optical/electronic properties. These properties are especially important to fabricating efficient photoelectrodes for solar-energy applications. To counter inherent problems in these materials, new strategies were developed and successfully implemented on the widely-utilized p-type semiconductor, NiO. As the size of semiconductor materials shrink, the surface-to-volume ratio increases and surface defects dominate the performance of the materials. Surface defects can alter the optical and electronic characteristics of materials by changing the Fermi level, charge-carrier mobility, and surface reactivity. We first present a strategy to increase the electrical mobility of mesoporous metal oxide electrode materials by optimizing shape morphology. Transitioning from nanospheres to hexagonal nanoplatelets increased the charge-carrier mobility by one order of magnitude. We then employed this improved material with a new vapor-phase deposition method termed targeted atomic deposition (TAD) to selectively passivate defect sites in semiconductor nanomaterials. We demonstrated the capabilities of this passivation method by applying a TAD of aluminum onto NiO. By exploiting a temperature-dependent deposition process, we selectively passivated the highly reactive sites in NiO: oxygen dangling bonds associated with Ni vacancies. The TAD treatment completely passivated all measurable surface defects, optically bleached the material, and significantly improved all photovoltaic performance metrics in dye-sensitized solar cells. The technique was proven to be generic to numerous forms of NiO. While the implementation of TAD of Al was successful, the process involved pulsing two precursors to passivate the material. Ideally, the TAD process should require only a single precursor and continuous exposure. We utilized a continuous flow of diborane to perform a TAD of B onto NiO. The TAD process was successfully implemented in a simplified manner. The treatment moderately increased DSSC performance and proved viability with a different vapor-phase precursor.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Schauer, Cynthia
  • Dempsey, Jillian
  • You, Wei
  • Meyer, Gerald
  • Cahoon, James
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2016

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