/Standalone artificial leaves for solar fuels

Standalone artificial leaves for solar fuels

Master projects/internships - Genk | More than two weeks ago

Explore the pathways for photoelectrochemical conversion of CO2 to value added products  

The conversion of CO2 to value-added products is a prime area of research to achieve a carbon-neutral economy. However, the thermodynamic and kinetic challenges associated with this reaction make it a complex system. On the other hand, solar energy is a clean and abundant energy source considered a promising solution for environmental and energy crises. Furthermore, solar energy can be directly utilized to convert CO2 molecules into valuable products. The key elements for achieving direct solar-to-fuel conversions are semiconducting materials and co-catalysts. When a semiconductor material is exposed to light, it generates electrons and holes that have the potential to conduct oxidation and reduction reactions. To further lower the energy barrier for these reactions and enhance selectivity for the desired product co-catalysts can be employed.  Therefore, there is a significant interest in developing efficient photo absorbers and co-catalysts to improve energy conversion and catalytic activity. The semiconducting-co-catalyst systems can deliver a standalone device that mimics the functionality of leaves by converting CO2/H2O to energy.
In this project, you will fabricate perovskite-based thin films as photocathodes via state-of-the-art deposition processes and tools. These perovskite layers will be coated with multiple layers of metal oxides and co-catalysts to promote the intended photo(electro)chemical reaction. You will conduct various electrical, physical, and photo(electrochemical) characterizations and studies to evaluate their performance for solar fuel generation in different electrolytes. Thanks to your study, by combining with a suitable photoanode developed by our group, you will fabricate a standalone artificial leaf-like device that reduces atmospheric CO2 to valuable products like CH4, CH3OH, or water to H2.  

Standalone artificial leaves for solar fuels
The work will be conducted in the newly built laboratories at imec in EnergyVille, Genk, working in one of the world’s premier research centers for energy research. 
Skill required: background in semiconductors or photo/electrochemistry. Good knowledge of device physics, nanotechnology, and lab process. 

Type of Project: Combination of internship and thesis 

Master's degree: Master of Engineering Science; Master of Science      

Supervising scientist(s): Vishal Kakkarakunnel Jose; Anurag Krishna 

Supervisor: Bart Vermang (UHasselt) 

For more information or application, please contact Vishal Kakkarakunnel Jose (vishal.kakkarakunneljose@imec.be)

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