PhD - Genk | More than two weeks ago
Converting sunlight to chemical fuels
Photocatalytic production of solar fuels from CO2 is a promising strategy for addressing global environmental problems and securing future energy supplies. Currently, the pursuit to obtain a stable and efficient photoelectrochemcial system is on-going.
Semiconducting heterojunctions and tandem systems have been explored extensively to enable selective charge transfer schemes for photoelectrocatalytic CO2 reduction and water splitting. Major challenge has been in realizing high activity and stability. Moreover, high surface area is desirable for higher catalytically active sites. Ultrathin coatings of metallic nanoparticles (Cu, Ag, Bi) and semiconducting nanoparticles of earth abundant materials (sulfides and selenides of Mo, W, Ni, Co etc.) are extremely promising for photocatalytic reduction of hydrogen and CO2. However, their potential remains largely unexplored.
In this project, two aspects will be addressed –
(i) development and optimization of tandem structure comprising of high and low bandgap absorbers (of perovskite, silicon, and thin films) with surface protective coatings capable of withstanding in electrolyte media.
(ii) development of high surface area and porous hybrid materials as electrocatalysts selective for hydrocarbon production such as ethylene and methanol.
Beyond technical innovation, the project will focus on fundamental aspects related to efficient light utilization in tandem system, degradation kinetics of a PEC, managing overpotential losses and concepts of tandem catalysis.
IMEC’s expertise in perovskites, chalcogenides and kesterite solar cells will be used in the integration of a tandem PV-EC device. The work will be performed in close collaboration with different partners focusing on different aspects such as – theory and modelling, interface, and electrochemical devices.
The development of new catalyst materials and fundamental insights on the photoelectrochemical processes would enable devices with excellent performance and selectivity towards high-value products. The work will be executed in an international and multi-cultural workspace in the labs located at Energyville and IMEC. The PhD candidate will be conducting highly interdisciplinary research covering topics from chemistry, physics, materials science, and electrochemistry. on such tandem systems and develop high surface area catalyst materials for photoelectrochemical fuel conversion. He/She will join imec’s thin-film PV group, performing world-class research on thin-film and solar fuel technologies at our state-of-the-art research facilities located at the EnergyVille campus in Genk.
Required background: materials science, physics, chemistry, physical engineering, electrical engineering
Type of work: 10% reading, 60% experimental, 30% characterization and modelling
Supervisor: Bart Vermang
Daily advisor: Sudhanshu Shukla
The reference code for this position is 2023-053. Mention this reference code on your application form.