Enhancing Solar Cells and Catalysts using Novel 2D Nanomaterials

J. Shapter
University of Queensland,
Australia

Keywords: phosphorene, antimonene, MXenes, nitrogen reduction reaction, solar cells

Summary:

One of the most important issues facing society is the ability to supply the world’s energy requirements via both environmentally responsible and sustainable means. Renewable energy, and in particular solar energy, has the potential to address current issues in energy production but costs, both in terms of the energy required for production and final price to the consumer, as well flexibility in terms of system deployment are problems that will need to be addressed. Reducing the environmental footprint in various chemical processes is also very important. This talk will focus on work using 2D nanomaterials to make new architectures for solar cells or new generation nonmetallic catalysts. Several possible structures including heteroatom doping will be explored and the disadvantages and advantages of each will be examined. One example presented will be a discussion of a facile and efficient protocol for chemical doping of phosphorene nanosheets with nitrogen (N) atoms. The synthesis of highly crystalline nitrogen-doped phosphorene (N-phosphorene) is accomplished through a combination of ball milling and microwave techniques. The rapid surface oxidation of phosphorene under ambient conditions is considered to be serious issue for many applications, but here is used as a strategy to achieve efficient chemical N-doping. The prepared N-doped phosphorene nanosheets showed outstanding electrocatalytic performances as a new type of non-metallic catalysts for nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) conversion at a low overpotential (0 V) versus reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE). This work not only introduces an efficient strategy to chemically functionalize 2D phosphorene, but also opens a new avenue in using N-doped phosphorene nanosheets as metal-free catalysts.