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2022
Sabbah, A, Shown I, Qorbani M, Fu F-Y, Lin T-Y, Wu H-L, Chung P-W, Wu C-I, Santiago SRM, Shen J-L, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2022.  Boosting photocatalytic CO2 reduction in a ZnS/ZnIn2S4 heterostructure through strain-induced direct Z-scheme and a mechanistic study of molecular CO2 interaction thereon, 2022. 93:106809. AbstractWebsite

Employing direct Z-scheme semiconductor heterostructures in photocatalysis offers efficient charge carrier separation and isolation of both redox reactions, thus beneficial to reduce CO2 into solar fuels. Here, a ZnS/ZnIn2S4 heterostructure, comprising cubic ZnS nanocrystals on hexagonal ZnIn2S4 (ZIS) nanosheets, is successfully fabricated in a single-pot hydrothermal approach. The composite ZnS/ZnIn2S4 exhibits microstrain at its interface with an electric field favorable for Z-scheme. At an optimum ratio of Zn:In (~ 1:0.5), an excellent photochemical quantum efficiency of around 0.8% is reached, nearly 200-fold boost compared with pristine ZnS. Electronic levels and band alignments are deduced from ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy and UV-Vis. Evidence of the direct Z-scheme and carrier dynamics is verified by photo-reduction experiment, along with photoluminescence (PL) and time-resolved PL. Finally, diffuse-reflectance infrared Fourier transformed spectroscopy explores the CO2 and related intermediate species adsorbed on the catalyst during the photocatalytic reaction. This microstrain-induced direct Z-scheme approach opens a new pathway for developing next-generation photocatalysts for CO2 reduction.

Ho, T-T, Jokar E, Quadir S, Chen R-S, Liu F-C, Cheng-YingChen, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2022.  Enhancing the photovoltaic properties of SnS-Based solar cells by crystallographic orientation engineering, 2022. 236:111499. AbstractWebsite

Tin monosulfide (SnS) is a promising light-harvesting material for solar cell applications, owing to its potential for large-scale production, cost-effectiveness, eco-friendly source materials, and long-term stability. However, SnS crystallizes in an orthorhombic structure, which results in a highly anisotropic charge transport behavior. Tailoring the crystallographic orientation of the SnS absorber layer plays a critical role in the enhancement of the transfer of charge carriers and the power conversion efficiency (PCE). By controlling the substrate tilting angle and temperature ramp rate in vapor transport deposition, the crystal growth orientation was tuned to a preferred direction which significantly suppressed the unfavorable (040) crystallographic plane. Through the combination of these two approaches, the PCE could be increased from 0.11% to 2%. The effect of the tilting angle was numerically simulated to investigate its role in controlling the film uniformity and directing the film growth. In addition, the correlation between the texture coefficient of the (040) plane and the charge transport properties was determined by a combination of analytical methods such as device performance studies, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, along with transient photovoltage, space-charge-limited current, and dark current measurements. These techniques were blended together to prove that the marked improvement in PCE can be ascribed to a reduced charge recombination (in both SnS bulk and interfaces) and an enhanced hole mobility.

Yang, M-J, Yusuf Fakhri M, Liao C-N, Chen K-H.  2022.  Synthesis and characterization of Ge-Ag-Sb-S-Se-Te high-entropy thermoelectric alloys, 2022. 311:131617. AbstractWebsite

Multielement alloying is an appealing approach for suppressing thermal conductivity of thermoelectric materials. In this study, we synthesized GeTe-based high-entropy alloys with notable (S, Se) substitution at Te sites and (Ag, Sb) at Ge sites. The Ge0.82Ag0.08Sb0.1S0.5Se0.1Te0.4 exhibits an extremely low thermal conductivity of ∼ 0.66 W/m⋅K and a high Seebeck coefficient (>250 μV/K) over a temperature range of 150 – 400 °C. The influence of lattice distortion on phase transformation and transport properties of Ge0.9-2xAg2xSb0.1S0.5Se0.1Te0.4 (x = 0 – 0.06) was investigated.

Shelke, AR, Wang H-T, Chiou J-W, Shown I, Sabbah A, Chen K-H, Teng S-A, Lin I-A, Lee C-C, Hsueh H-C, Liang Y-H, Du C-H, Yadav PL, Ray SC, Hsieh S-H, Pao C-W, Tsai H-M, Chen C-H, Chen K-H, Chen L-C, Pong W-F.  2022.  Bandgap Shrinkage and Charge Transfer in 2D Layered SnS2 Doped with V for Photocatalytic Efficiency Improvement. Small. n/a:2105076., Number n/a AbstractWebsite

Abstract Effects of electronic and atomic structures of V-doped 2D layered SnS2 are studied using X-ray spectroscopy for the development of photocatalytic/photovoltaic applications. Extended X-ray absorption fine structure measurements at V K-edge reveal the presence of VO and VS bonds which form the intercalation of tetrahedral OVS sites in the van der Waals (vdW) gap of SnS2 layers. X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) reveals not only valence state of V dopant in SnS2 is ≈4+ but also the charge transfer (CT) from V to ligands, supported by V Lα,β resonant inelastic X-ray scattering. These results suggest V doping produces extra interlayer covalent interactions and additional conducting channels, which increase the electronic conductivity and CT. This gives rapid transport of photo-excited electrons and effective carrier separation in layered SnS2. Additionally, valence-band photoemission spectra and S K-edge XANES indicate that the density of states near/at valence-band maximum is shifted to lower binding energy in V-doped SnS2 compare to pristine SnS2 and exhibits band gap shrinkage. These findings support first-principles density functional theory calculations of the interstitially tetrahedral OVS site intercalated in the vdW gap, highlighting the CT from V to ligands in V-doped SnS2.

Daichakomphu, N, Abbas S, Chou T-L, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Sakulkalavek A, Sakdanuphab R.  2022.  Understanding the effect of sputtering pressures on the thermoelectric properties of GeTe films. Journal of Alloys and Compounds. 893:162342. AbstractWebsite

In this work, we study the effect of sputtering pressures on the thermoelectric properties of GeTe films. The working pressures were differentiated from 3 to 30 mTorr, and the as-deposited films were annealed at 623 K for 10 min in Ar atmosphere. The results show that the working pressure has a significant effect on the Ge content and crystalline size. The turning trend of the Seebeck coefficient with different sputtering pressures corresponds to the Ge content. The surface morphology of annealed film will change from cracks to voids with increasing sputtering pressure. This behavior can be explained by the growth mechanisms model. The voids and relatively low crystalline size of GeTe films affect to the reduction of the electrical conductivity. In addition, the void content decreased as film thickness was increased. Therefore, controlling the working pressures in the sputtering process and film thickness is important for the thermoelectric performance of GeTe thin film. In our work, we prove that the thermoelectric properties of GeTe films could be optimized effectively by simply tuning different sputtering conditions.

2021
Syum, Z, Billo T, Sabbah A, Venugopal B, Yu S-Y, Fu F-Y, Wu H-L, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Copper Zinc Tin Sulfide Anode Materials for Lithium-Ion Batteries at Low Temperature, 2021. ACS Sustainable Chemistry & EngineeringACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. : American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite
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Sabhapathy, P, Shown I, Sabbah A, Raghunath P, Chen J-L, Chen W-F, Lin M-C, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2021.  Electronic structure modulation of isolated Co-N4 electrocatalyst by sulfur for improved pH-universal hydrogen evolution reaction, 2021. Nano Energy. 80:105544. AbstractWebsite

Exploring an efficient platinum group metal (PGM) free electrocatalyst with superior activity and stability for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) in a wide pH range is desirable for low-cost hydrogen production. Here, we report atomically dispersed cobalt on nitrogen and sulfur co-doped graphene (N-Co-S/G) for HER. Remarkably, the prepared N-Co-S/G electrocatalyst shows a small overpotential of 67.7 mV vs. reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) at a current density of 10 mA cm−2 and exceptional durability over 100 h at 10 mA cm−2 under acidic conditions. Moreover, we found that the HER activity of N-Co-S/G is close to 20% Pt/C at all pH levels (0–14) and superior activity at high current density (>100 mA cm−2). Experimental and theoretical calculations reveal that the S atom in N-Co-S/G form Co-S bond, resulting new Co-N3S1 active site, which optimizes Gibbs free energy for hydrogen adsorption (∆GH*) close to zero, while water adsorption and dissociation enhanced by S modulation for neutral and basic media HER.

Thang, NQ, Sabbah A, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Thi CM, Viet PV.  2021.  High-efficient photocatalytic degradation of commercial drugs for pharmaceutical wastewater treatment prospects: A case study of Ag/g-C3N4/ZnO nanocomposite materials, 2021. Chemosphere. 282:130971. AbstractWebsite

Pharmaceutical drugs' removal from wastewater by photocatalytic oxidation process is considered as an attractive approach and environmentally friendly solution. This report aims to appraise the practical application potential of Ag/g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods toward the wastewater treatment of the pharmaceutical industry. The catalysts are synthesized by straightforward and environmentally-friendly strategies. Specifically, g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods heterostructure is constructed by a simple self-assembly method, and then Ag nanoparticles are decorated on g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods by a photoreduction route. The results show that three commercial drugs (paracetamol, amoxicillin, and cefalexin) with high concentration (40 mg L−1) are significantly degraded in the existence of a small dosage of Ag/g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods (0.08 g L−1). The Ag/g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods photocatalyst exhibits degradation performance of paracetamol higher 3.8, 1.8, 1.3 times than pristine g-C3N4, ZnO nanorods, and g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods. Furthermore, Ag/g-C3N4/ZnO nanorods have an excellent reusability and a chemical stability that achieved paracetamol degradation efficiency of 78% and remained chemical structure of the photocatalyst after five cycles. In addition, the photocatalytic mechanism explanation and comparison of photocatalytic drugs’ degradation ability have also been discussed in this study.

Quadir, S, Qorbani M, Lai Y-R, Sabbah A, Thong H–T, Hayashi M, Chen C–Y, Chen K–H, Chen L–C.  2021.  Impact of Cation Substitution in (AgxCu1−x)2ZnSnSe4 Absorber-Based Solar Cells toward 10% Efficiency: Experimental and Theoretical Analyses, 2021. Solar RRLSolar RRL. n/a(n/a):2100441.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd AbstractWebsite

Solar cells based on kesterite Cu2ZnSnSe4 (CZTSe) compounds with earth-abundant elements are highly desirable for the low-cost and high-efficiency production of renewable energy. However, the occurrence of intrinsic defects substantially impairs the photovoltaic properties of CZTSe. Herein, a cation substitution method to control and passivate the defect states in bandgap of kesterite CZTSe by incorporating Ag ions is introduced. Intensity-dependent low-temperature photoluminescence measurements show that Ag incorporation can reduce the density and depth of intrinsic defects in CZTSe. The results reveal that 10% Ag-alloyed CZTSe provides the shallowest defect states and less nonradiative recombination. It is also confirmed by first-principles calculations that Ag incorporation enables the formation and suppresses the beneficial and detrimental defects, respectively. Based on the theoretical results, the observed subband photoluminescence peaks can be assigned to the intrinsic point and cluster defects. The best power conversion efficiency of 10.2% is achieved for the 10% Ag-alloyed CZTSe cell, along with an enhanced open-circuit voltage. These results open up a new avenue for further improving the performances of CZTSe-based device via defect engineering.

Kamal Hussien, M, Sabbah A, Qorbani M, Hammad Elsayed M, Raghunath P, Lin T-Y, Quadir S, Wang H-Y, Wu H-L, Tzou D-LM, Lin M-C, Chung P-W, Chou H-H, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Metal-free four-in-one modification of g-C3N4 for superior photocatalytic CO2 reduction and H2 evolution, 2021. :132853. AbstractWebsite

Utilization of g-C3N4 as a single photocatalyst material without combination with other semiconductor remains challenging. Herein, we report a facile green method for synthesizing a metal free modified g-C3N4 photocatalyst. The modification process combines four different strategies in a one-pot thermal reaction: non-metal doping, porosity generation, functionalization with amino groups, and thermal oxidation etching. The as-prepared amino-functionalized ultrathin nanoporous boron-doped g-C3N4 exhibited a high specific surface area of 143.2 m2 g−1 which resulted in abundant adsorption sites for CO2 and water molecules. The surface amino groups act as Lewis basic sites to adsorb acidic CO2 molecules, which can also serve as active sites to facilitate hydrogen generation. Besides, the simultaneous use of ammonium chloride as a dynamic gas bubble template along with thermal oxidation etching efficiently boosts the delamination of the g-C3N4 layers to produce ultrathin sheets; this leads to stronger light–matter interactions and efficient charge generation. Consequently, the newly modified g-C3N4 achieved selective gas-phase CO2 reduction into CO with a production yield of 21.95 µmol g-1, in the absence of any cocatalyst. Moreover, a high hydrogen generation rate of 3800 µmol g-1 h-1 and prominent apparent quantum yield of 10.6% were recorded. This work opens up a new avenue to explore different rational modifications of g-C3N4 nanosheets for the efficient production of clean energy.

Venugopal, B, Shown I, Samireddi S, Syum Z, Krishnamoorthy V, Wu H-L, Chu C-W, Lee C-H, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Microstructural intra-granular cracking in Cu2ZnSnS4@C thin-film anode enhanced the electrochemical performance in lithium-ion battery applications, 2021. Materials Advances. 2(17):5672-5685.: RSC AbstractWebsite

Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) has demonstrated excellent performance as an anode material for lithium-ion batteries. However, the repeated lithiation and delithiation create a cracking pattern and lead to island formation in the thin-film electrode, resulting in a capacity fading over cycling in lithium-ion batteries (LIB's). In order to control this crack behaviour, we introduce carbon into CZTS thin-films by a hydrothermal method to form CZTS@C composite. CZTS@C significantly reduced the crack pattern formation on the electrode surface as well as improved the conductivity of the CZTS@C electrode. At the early stages of lithiation and delithiation, the volume expansion and contraction of Li–CZTS@C create intra-granular cracking only at the surface level, and it offers a high capacity of about 785 mA h g−1 after 150 cycles at 1000 mA g−1 charging rate, excellent rate capability (942 mA h g−1, 678 mA h g−1 and 435 mA h g−1 at 500 mA g−1, 2000 mA g−1 and 5000 mA g−1), and superior cyclability (925 mA h g−1 even after 200 cycles at 500 mA g−1). The excellent electrochemical performance at high-current rates can be attributed to intra-granular cracking together with carbon coating that provides a short transportation length for both lithium ions and electrons. Moreover, the controlled cracking pattern formation in CZTS@C facilitates faster reaction kinetics, which open up a new solution for the development of high-power thin-film anodes for next-generation LIBs applications.

Du, H-Y, Huang Y-F, Wong D, Tseng M-F, Lee Y-H, Wang C-H, Lin C-L, Hoffmann G, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2021.  Nanoscale redox mapping at the MoS2-liquid interface, 2021. 12(1):1321. AbstractWebsite

Layered MoS2 is considered as one of the most promising two-dimensional photocatalytic materials for hydrogen evolution and water splitting; however, the electronic structure at the MoS2-liquid interface is so far insufficiently resolved. Measuring and understanding the band offset at the surfaces of MoS2 are crucial for understanding catalytic reactions and to achieve further improvements in performance. Herein, the heterogeneous charge transfer behavior of MoS2 flakes of various layer numbers and sizes is addressed with high spatial resolution in organic solutions using the ferrocene/ferrocenium (Fc/Fc+) redox pair as a probe in near-field scanning electrochemical microscopy, i.e. in close nm probe-sample proximity. Redox mapping reveals an area and layer dependent reactivity for MoS2 with a detailed insight into the local processes as band offset and confinement of the faradaic current obtained. In combination with additional characterization methods, we deduce a band alignment occurring at the liquid-solid interface.

Lee, S-W, Abdi ZG, Chen J-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Optimal method for preparing sulfonated polyaryletherketones with high ion exchange capacity by acid-catalyzed crosslinking for proton exchange membrane fuel cells, 2021. Journal of Polymer ScienceJournal of Polymer Science. 59(8):706-720.: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd AbstractWebsite

Abstract Sulfonated polyaryletherketones (SPAEK) bearing four sulfonic acid groups on the phenyl side groups were synthesized. The benzophenone moiety of polymer backbone was further reduced to benzydrol group with sodium borohydride. The membranes were crosslinked by acid-catalyzed Friedel-Crafts reaction without sacrifice of sulfonic acid groups and ion exchange capacity (IEC) values. Crosslinked membranes with the same IEC value but different water uptake could be prepared. The optimal crosslinking condition was investigated to achieve lower water uptake, better chemical stability (Fenton's test), and higher proton conductivity. In addition, the hydrophilic ionic channels from originally course and disordered could be modified to be narrow and continuous by this crosslinking method. The crosslinked membranes, CS4PH-40-PEKOH (IEC = 2.4 meq./g), reduced water uptake from 200 to 88% and the weight loss was reduced from 11 to 5% during the Fenton test compared to uncrosslinked one (S4PH-40-PEK). The membrane showed comparable proton conductivity (0.01?0.19?S/cm) to Nafion 212 at 80°C from low to high relative humidity (RH). Single H2/O2 fuel cell based on the crosslinked SPAEK with catalyst loading of 0.25?mg/cm2 (Pd/C) exhibited a peak power density of 220.3 mW/cm2, which was close to that of Nafion 212 (214.0 mW/cm2) at 80°C under 53% RH. These membranes provide a good option as proton exchange membrane with high ion exchange capacity for fuel cells.

Lien, H-T, Chang Y-C, Huang C-Y, Hsu H-C, Chang S-T, Wong DP, Wang C-H, Wang C-H, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2021.  Solar to hydrocarbon production using metal-free water-soluble bulk heterojunction of conducting polymer nanoparticle and graphene oxide, 2021. The Journal of Chemical PhysicsThe Journal of Chemical Physics. 154(16):164707.: American Institute of Physics AbstractWebsite
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Syum, Z, Venugopal B, Sabbah A, Billo T, Chou T-chin, Wu H-L, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Superior lithium-ion storage performance of hierarchical tin disulfide and carbon nanotube-carbon cloth composites, 2021. Journal of Power Sources. 482:228923. AbstractWebsite

Tin-based composites are promising anode materials for high-performance lithium-ion batteries (LIBs); however, insufficient conductivity, as well as fatal volume expansion during cycling lead to poor electrochemical reversibility and cycling stability. In this work, we demonstrate the lithium-ion storage behaviors of SnS2 anode material deposited on different electrode supports. The SnS2 grown on 3D hierarchical carbon nanotube-carbon cloth composites (SnS2-CNT-CC) shows superior capacity retention and cycle stability, compared to that on planar Mo sheets and carbon cloth. The specific capacity of SnS2 on Mo, CC, and CNT-CC is around 240, 840, and 1250 g−1, respectively. The SnS2-CNT-CC electrode outperforms in the cyclic performance and rate capability compared to other electrode configurations due to the multi-electron pathway and high surface area derived from 3D hierarchical CNT-CC electrode support. Furthermore, a significant decrease in the charge transfer resistance is observed by utilizing 3D hierarchical CNT-CC electrode support. The use of 3D hierarchical structures as electrode support could be the best alternative to enhance the electrochemical performances for the next generation LIBs.

Su, T-Y, Wang T-H, Wong DP, Wang Y-C, Huang A, Sheng Y-C, Tang S-Y, Chou T-chin, Chou T-L, Jeng H-T, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Chueh Y-L.  2021.  Thermally Strain-Induced Band Gap Opening on Platinum Diselenide-Layered Films: A Promising Two-Dimensional Material with Excellent Thermoelectric Performance, 2021. Chemistry of MaterialsChemistry of Materials. 33(10):3490-3498.: American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite
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Samireddi, S, Aishwarya V, Shown I, Muthusamy S, Unni SM, Wong K-T, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2021.  Synergistic Dual-Atom Molecular Catalyst Derived from Low-Temperature Pyrolyzed Heterobimetallic Macrocycle-N4 Corrole Complex for Oxygen Reduction. Small. 17:2103823., Number 46 AbstractWebsite

Abstract A heterobimetallic corrole complex, comprising oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) active non-precious metals Co and Fe with a corrole-N4 center (PhFCC), is successfully synthesized and used to prepare a dual-atom molecular catalyst (DAMC) through subsequent low-temperature pyrolysis. This low-temperature pyrolyzed electrocatalyst exhibited impressive ORR performance, with onset potentials of 0.86 and 0.94 V, and half-wave potentials of 0.75 and 0.85 V, under acidic and basic conditions, respectively. During potential cycling, this DAMC displayed half-wave potential losses of only 25 and 5 mV under acidic and alkaline conditions after 3000 cycles, respectively, demonstrating its excellent stability. Single-cell Nafion-based proton exchange membrane fuel cell performance using this DAMC as the cathode catalyst showed a maximum power density of 225 mW cm−2, almost close to that of most metal–N4 macrocycle-based catalysts. The present study showed that preservation of the defined CoN4 structure along with the cocatalytic Fe–Cx site synergistically acted as a dual ORR active center to boost overall ORR performance. The development of DAMC from a heterobimetallic CoN4-macrocyclic system using low-temperature pyrolysis is also advantageous for practical applications.

Huang, Y-F, Liao K-W, Fahmi FRZ, Modak VA, Tsai S-H, Ke S-W, Wang C-H, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2021.  Thickness-Dependent Photocatalysis of Ultra-Thin MoS2 Film for Visible-Light-Driven CO2 Reduction. Catalysts. 11, Number 11 AbstractWebsite

The thickness of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) plays a key role in enhancing their photocatalytic CO2 reduction activity. However, the optimum thickness of the layered TMDs that is required to achieve sufficient light absorption and excellent crystallinity has still not been definitively determined. In this work, ultra-thin molybdenum disulfide films (MoS2TF) with 25 nm thickness presented remarkable photocatalytic activity, and the product yield increased by about 2.3 times. The photocatalytic mechanism corresponding to the TMDs’ thickness was also proposed. This work demonstrates that the thickness optimization of TMDs provides a cogent direction for the design of high-performance photocatalysts.

Huang, S-J, Muneeb A, Sabhapathy P, Bayikadi KS, Murtaza T, Raju K, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Sankar R.  2021.  Two-Dimensional Layered NiLiP2S6 Crystals as an Efficient Bifunctional Electrocatalyst for Overall Water Splitting. Catalysts. 11, Number 7 AbstractWebsite

The quest of earth-abundant bifunctional electrocatalysts for highly efficient oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is essential for clean and renewable energy systems. Herein, directed by the experimental analysis, we demonstrate layered nickel lithium phosphosulfide (NiLiP2S6) crystal as a highly efficient water-splitting catalyst in alkaline media. With strained lattice due to stacked layers as observed by TEM and electronic structure analysis performed by XPS showed mixed Ni2+,3+ oxidation states induced by addition of Li as a cation, NiLiP2S6 displays excellent OER (current density of 10 mA cm–2 showed an overpotential of 303 mV vs. RHE and a Tafel slope of 114 mV dec–1) and HER activity (current density of −10 mA cm–2 showed an overpotential of 184 mV vs. RHE and a Tafel slope of 94.5 mV dec–1). Finally, an alkaline media was employed to demonstrate the overall water splitting using NiLiP2S6 as both the anode and the cathode, which attained a 50 mA cm−2 current density at 1.68 V. This bimetallic phosphosulfide, together with long-term stability and enhanced intrinsic activity, shows enormous potential in water splitting applications.

2020
Yang, J, Wang C-Y, Wang C-C, Chen K-H, Mou C-Y, Wu H-L.  2020.  Advanced nanoporous separators for stable lithium metal electrodeposition at ultra-high current densities in liquid electrolytes, 2020. Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 8(10):5095-5104.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Lithium metal anodes form a dendritic structure after cycling which causes an internal short circuit in flammable electrolytes and results in battery fires. Today's separators are insufficient for suppressing the formation of lithium dendrites. Herein, we report on the use of mesoporous silica thin films (MSTFs) with perpendicular nanochannels (pore size ∼5 nm) stacking on an anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) membrane as the MSTF⊥AAO separator for advancing Li metal batteries. The nanoporous MSTF⊥AAO separator with novel inorganic structures shows ultra-long term stability of Li plating/stripping in Li–Li cells at an ultra-high current density and capacity (10 mA cm−2 and 5 mA h cm−2). A significant improvement over the state-of-the-art separator is evaluated based on three performance indicators, e.g. cycle life, current density and capacity. In Li–Cu cells, the MSTF⊥AAO separator shows a coulombic efficiency of >99.9% at a current density of 10 mA cm−2 for more than 250 h of cycling. The separator gives improved rate capability in Li–LiFePO4 (LFP) batteries. The excellent performance of the MSTF⊥AAO separator is due to good wetting of electrolytes, straight nanopores with negative charges, uniform Li deposition and blocking the finest dendrite.

Chang, M-C, Ho P-H, Tseng M-F, Lin F-Y, Hou C-H, Lin I-K, Wang H, Huang P-P, Chiang C-H, Yang Y-C, Wang I-T, Du H-Y, Wen C-Y, Shyue J-J, Chen C-W, Chen K-H, Chiu P-W, Chen L-C.  2020.  Fast growth of large-grain and continuous MoS2 films through a self-capping vapor-liquid-solid method, 2020. 11(1):3682. AbstractWebsite

Most chemical vapor deposition methods for transition metal dichalcogenides use an extremely small amount of precursor to render large single-crystal flakes, which usually causes low coverage of the materials on the substrate. In this study, a self-capping vapor-liquid-solid reaction is proposed to fabricate large-grain, continuous MoS2 films. An intermediate liquid phase-Na2Mo2O7 is formed through a eutectic reaction of MoO3 and NaF, followed by being sulfurized into MoS2. The as-formed MoS2 seeds function as a capping layer that reduces the nucleation density and promotes lateral growth. By tuning the driving force of the reaction, large mono/bilayer (1.1 mm/200 μm) flakes or full-coverage films (with a record-high average grain size of 450 μm) can be grown on centimeter-scale substrates. The field-effect transistors fabricated from the full-coverage films show high mobility (33 and 49 cm2 V−1 s−1 for the mono and bilayer regions) and on/off ratio (1 ~ 5 × 108) across a 1.5 cm × 1.5 cm region.

Chang, H-C, Chen T-H, Sankar R, Yang Y-J, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2020.  Highly improved thermoelectric performance of BiCuTeO achieved by decreasing the oxygen content, 2020. 15:100248. AbstractWebsite

BiCuTeO is a promising thermoelectric material owing to its intrinsically low thermal conductivity and high carrier concentration. This study investigated the influence of stoichiometric oxygen deficiencies on the thermoelectric performance of BiCuTeO. Bulk BiCuTeO1−x (0.16 ≥ x) samples were prepared by a conventional solid state reaction and pelleted by hot pressing. Synchrotron X-ray diffraction, electron probe X-ray microanalysis, scanning electron microscopy, and transmission electron microscopy characterized the samples. A maximum value of 1.06 was achieved for the dimensionless figure of merit ZT at 673 K for BiCuTeO0.88, which is approximately 49% better than the current maximal ZT value for BiCuTeO. The power factor was noticeably improved owing to increases in the electrical conductivity and Seebeck coefficient. Moreover, the optimal oxygen deficiency could introduce nanoparticles, resulting in reduced thermal conductivity. The findings will be important for the future development of metal oxide thermoelectric materials for use in practical thermoelectric devices.

Shit, SC, Shown I, Paul R, Chen K-H, Mondal J, Chen L-C.  2020.  Integrated nano-architectured photocatalysts for photochemical CO2 reduction, 2020. Nanoscale. 12(46):23301-23332.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Recent advances in nanotechnology, especially the development of integrated nanostructured materials, have offered unprecedented opportunities for photocatalytic CO2 reduction. Compared to bulk semiconductor photocatalysts, most of these nanostructured photocatalysts offer at least one advantage in areas such as photogenerated carrier kinetics, light absorption, and active surface area, supporting improved photochemical reaction efficiencies. In this review, we briefly cover the cutting-edge research activities in the area of integrated nanostructured catalysts for photochemical CO2 reduction, including aqueous and gas-phase reactions. Primarily explored are the basic principles of tailor-made nanostructured composite photocatalysts and how nanostructuring influences photochemical performance. Specifically, we summarize the recent developments related to integrated nanostructured materials for photocatalytic CO2 reduction, mainly in the following five categories: carbon-based nano-architectures, metal–organic frameworks, covalent-organic frameworks, conjugated porous polymers, and layered double hydroxide-based inorganic hybrids. Besides the technical aspects of nanostructure-enhanced catalytic performance in photochemical CO2 reduction, some future research trends and promising strategies are addressed.

Thang, NQ, Sabbah A, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Hai LV, Thi CM, Viet PV.  2020.  Localized surface plasmonic resonance role of silver nanoparticles in the enhancement of long-chain hydrocarbons of the CO2 reduction over Ag-gC3N4/ZnO nanorods photocatalysts, 2020. :116049. AbstractWebsite

The conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbon fuels via the photocatalytic reaction route is considered a potential strategy to concurrently address serious energy crisis and greenhouse gas emission problems. Nevertheless, the generation of long-chain hydrocarbon products (Cn, n ≥ 2) from the visible-light-reactive photocatalytic CO2 reduction has also been considering a contemporary challenge. Herein, we indicate that Ag nanoparticles (Ag NPs) loaded gC3N4/ZnO nanorods heterojunction (Ag-gC3N4/ZnO NRs abbreviation) has extended photoactive range and enhanced specific surface area. The combination of Ag NPs and gC3N4/ZnO NRs significantly enhances photocatalytic CO2 reduction efficiency to form the acetone product. Detail, the acetone production efficiency of Ag-gC3N4/ZnO NRs is 8.4 and 7.5 times higher than pure ZnO NRs and gC3N4/ZnO NRs at the same condition, respectively. This study represents a potential approach toward higher-energy-value hydrocarbons production and greenhouse gas emission mitigation.

Billo, T, Shown I, kumar Anbalagan A, Effendi TA, Sabbah A, Fu F-Y, Chu C-M, Woon W-Y, Chen R-S, Lee C-H, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2020.  A mechanistic study of molecular CO2 interaction and adsorption on carbon implanted SnS2 thin film for photocatalytic CO2 reduction activity, 2020. 72:104717. AbstractWebsite

Gas-phase photocatalytic reactions to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and hydrocarbons are the foundation of life on earth. However, the efficiency of photosynthesis is relatively low (~1%), which leaves much room for artificial photosynthesis to reach the benchmark of the solar cells (>15%). In this work, carbon implanted SnS2 thin films (C–SnS2) were prepared to study photocatalytic activity and adsorbate-catalyst surface interactions during CO2 photoreduction. The electron density distribution in C–SnS2 and its contribution toward the photogenerated charge transfer process has been analyzed by the angle-dependent X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) study. The C–SnS2 surface affinity toward the CO2 molecule was monitored by in-situ dark current and Raman spectroscopy measurements. By optimizing the dose during ion implantation, SnS2 thin film with 1 wt% carbon incorporation shows 108 times enhancement in the CO2 conversion efficiency and more than 89% product selectivity toward CH4 formation compared with the as-grown SnS2 without carbon incorporation. The improved photocatalytic activity can be ascribed to enhanced light harvesting, pronounced charge-transfer between SnS2 and carbon with improved carrier separation and the availability of highly active carbon sites that serve as favorable CO2 adsorption sites.