[Researcher of the month] Silver Nanoclusters for Solar Cells Advanced in Stability and Efficiency
Professor Bang Jin-ho (Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering, ERICA Campus)
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Professor Bang Jin-ho (Department of Chemical and Molecular Engineering, ERICA Campus) recently published his research "Ag(I)-Thiolate-Protected Silver Nanoclusters for Solar Cells: Electrochemical and Spectroscopic Look into the Photoelectrode/Electrolyte Interface," and was chosen as the researcher of the month for ERICA Campus. This research uncovered a new synthesis route that ensures better stability and extends the excited state lifetime of silver nanoclusters. Such research findings are expected to take our society one step closer to developing nontoxic, environmentally-friendly solar cells.
Silver is an environmentally-friendly material that easily absorbs light. However, silver is in a more unstable state than gold, and a new synthesis route was needed to improve its stability. In order for silver to be used in solar cells, the electron needs to be in a floating state for a long period. This so called floating state is known as the excited state lifetime, which is the length of time that the electron beamed by light stays in a high energy state. A longer excited state lifetime is necessary for more opportunity for electron transfer to occur.
So what is the new synthesis route? The research team found out that if pH is reversible back and forth, then it is possible to create a ligand frame if pH is turned into acid, and back to normal if pH is raised. The ligands that cover the surface of the silver nanoclusters stabilize it. With the shell protection provided by the ligands, stability and the excited state lifetime can be enhanced.
The new synthesis route helped overcome the drawbacks of the silver nanoclusters by inducing agglutination of the compounds silver (Ag) and sulfur (S) at the surface of the silver nanoclusters. This extended the light conversion efficiency of solar cells by two times and extended the safe driving period of solar cells.
This research began in 2013 and is still ongoing after the publication of this research article. Bang and his research team are the leading group in this field, holding the highest conversion efficiency. Currently, Bang is conducting research related to materials, specifically batteries. He is interested in the development of electrode materials, and the advancement of electrode systems, which have a lot in common with batteries. He discussed his ultimate goal of actualizing and commercializing his research findings, so that they can increase convenience in people's lives.
The primary goal for the research team now is to increase the efficiency to a level that allows competition compared to the traditional solar cells, in terms of engineering perspectives. The secondary goal is in line with the initial goal in that fundamental research of knowing the basic principle of motion is vital in an attempt to increase efficiency.
Kim Hyun-soo firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Hyeon-seon
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