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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
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
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.

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.

Howlader, S, Vasudevan R, Jarwal B, Gupta S, Chen K-H, Sachdev K, Banerjee MK.  2020.  Microstructure and mechanical stability of Bi doped Mg2Si0.4Sn0.6 thermoelectric material, 2020. 818:152888. AbstractWebsite

Bi doped Mg2Si0.4Sn0.6 had been synthesised in a high energy ball mill followed by compaction using a sintering hot press. The structural and compositional characterization of sintered mass indicated the formation of a highly densified single-phase product. The microstructure of the hot-pressed samples had been critically assessed. Thermoelectric properties were measured between room temperature and 723 K. A decrease in electrical conductivity was found with the increase in temperature but the Seebeck coefficient showed a reverse trend justifying the attainment of degenerate semiconducting behaviour. Meanwhile, the lattice thermal conductivity was subdued to 1.5 W/mK at 623 K. However, the highest zT value of 0.8 was achieved at 723 K. Moreover, the detailed X-ray photoelectron spectroscopic analysis was carried for the determination of binding energy of the constituent elements in the experimental alloy; it also provided the correct estimation of atomic percentage of the concerned elements. The Raman spectrum revealed a shift in F2g peak with respect to that of Mg2Sn and Mg2Si in correspondence with the composition of the synthesised alloy. The synthesised alloy showed micro and nano hardness of 3.7 and 4.03 GPa respectively, which implies that good mechanical strength could be achieved in the synthesised alloy.

Huang, W-F, Chang S-T, Huang H-C, Wang C-H, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Lin MC.  2020.  On the Reduction of O2 on Cathode Surfaces of Co–Corrin and Co–Porphyrin: A Computational and Experimental Study on Their Relative Efficiencies in H2O/H2O2 Formation, 2020. The Journal of Physical Chemistry CThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C. 124(8):4652-4659.: American Chemical Society AbstractWebsite
Lien, H-T, Chang S-T, Chen P-T, Wong DP, Chang Y-C, Lu Y-R, Dong C-L, Wang C-H, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2020.  Probing the active site in single-atom oxygen reduction catalysts via operando X-ray and electrochemical spectroscopy, 2020. 11(1):4233. AbstractWebsite

Nonnoble metal catalysts are low-cost alternatives to Pt for the oxygen reduction reactions (ORRs), which have been studied for various applications in electrocatalytic systems. Among them, transition metal complexes, characterized by a redox-active single-metal-atom with biomimetic ligands, such as pyrolyzed cobalt–nitrogen–carbon (Co–Nx/C), have attracted considerable attention. Therefore, we reported the ORR mechanism of pyrolyzed Vitamin B12 using operando X-ray absorption spectroscopy coupled with electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, which enables operando monitoring of the oxygen binding site on the metal center. Our results revealed the preferential adsorption of oxygen at the Co2+ center, with end-on coordination forming a Co2+-oxo species. Furthermore, the charge transfer mechanism between the catalyst and reactant enables further Co–O species formation. These experimental findings, corroborated with first-principle calculations, provide insight into metal active-site geometry and structural evolution during ORR, which could be used for developing material design strategies for high-performance electrocatalysts for fuel cell applications.

Bayikadi, KS, Wu CT, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Chou F-C, Sankar R.  2020.  Synergistic optimization of thermoelectric performance of Sb doped GeTe with a strained domain and domain boundaries, 2020. Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 8(10):5332-5341.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

In addition to the Ge-vacancy control of GeTe, the antimony (Sb) substitution of GeTe for the improvement of thermoelectric performance is explored for Ge1−xSbxTe with x = 0.08–0.12. The concomitant carrier concentration (n) and the aliovalent Sb ion substitution led to an optimal doping level of x = 0.10 to show ZT ∼ 2.35 near ∼800 K, which is significantly higher than those single- and multi-element substitution studies of the GeTe system reported in the literature. In addition, Ge0.9Sb0.1Te demonstrates an impressively high power factor of ∼36 μW cm−1 K−2 and a low thermal conductivity of ∼1.1 W m−1 K−1 at 800 K. The enhanced ZT level for Ge0.9Sb0.1Te is explained through a systematic investigation of micro-structural change and strain analysis from room temperature to 800 K. A significant reduction of lattice thermal conductivity (κlat) is identified and explained by the Sb substitution-introduced strained and widened domain boundaries for the herringbone domain structure of Ge0.9Sb0.1Te. The Sb substitution created multiple forms of strain near the defect centre, the herringbone domain structure, and widened tensile/compressive domain boundaries to support phonon scattering that covers a wide frequency range of the phonon spectrum to reduce lattice thermal conductivity effectively.

Sainbileg, B, Lai Y-R, Chen L-C, Hayashi M.  2019.  The dual-defective SnS2 monolayers: promising 2D photocatalysts for overall water splitting, 2019. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. 21(48):26292-26300.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Photocatalytic water splitting is a promising way to produce hydrogen fuel from solar energy. In this regard, the search for new photocatalytic materials that can efficiently split water into hydrogen is essential. Here, using first-principles simulations, we demonstrate that the dual-defective SnS2 (Ni-SnS2-VS), by both single-atom nickel doping and sulfur monovacancies, becomes a promising two-dimensional photocatalyst compared with SnS2. The Ni-SnS2-VS monolayer, in particular, exhibits a suitable band alignment that perfectly overcomes the redox potentials for overall water splitting. The dual-defective monolayer displays remarkable photocatalytic activity, a spatially separated carrier, a broadened optical absorption spectrum, and enhanced adsorption energy of H2O. Therefore, the dual-defective SnS2 monolayer can serve as an efficient photocatalyst for overall water splitting to produce hydrogen fuel. Furthermore, a novel dual-defect method can be an effective strategy to enhance the photocatalytic behavior of 2D materials; it may pave inroads in the development of solar-fuel generation.

Chang, H-C, You H-J, Sankar R, Yang Y-J, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2019.  Enhanced thermoelectric performance of BiCuTeO by excess Bi additions, 2019. 45(7, Part A):9254-9259. AbstractWebsite

Thermoelectric (TE) devices used to convert waste heat directly into electricity are highly desirable for alleviating the prevailing energy crisis and global climate-change issues. Among the various TE materials available, metal oxides exhibit high thermal and chemical stabilities in air, and are hence, preferred for use in many TE applications. However, most of them possess TE figures of merit (ZT) that are below the applicable value of 2, in the mid-temperature region (from 250 to 600 °C). In a previous work, the removal of a small amount of Bi from BiCuSeO was found to improve the ZT of BiCuSeO. In this work, we pursue another track and study the TE performance of BiCuTeO after the addition of up to 6% excess Bi. Bi1+xCuTeO (x = 0.00–0.06) samples were prepared by solid-state reactions, followed by hot-pressing to form pellets. By adding a stoichiometric excess of Bi into BiCuTeO, 16% enhancement in power factor was achieved at 450 °C. This enhancement can be attributed to the increase in the Seebeck coefficient because of the appearance of secondary phases. Detailed characterizations and discussions of the effect of the nominal excess Bi in BiCuTeO are presented in this paper. The findings of this study can be applied in the investigation of novel high-performance TE materials.

Bayikadi, KS, Sankar R, Wu CT, Xia C, Chen Y, Chen L-C, Chen K-H, Chou F-C.  2019.  Enhanced thermoelectric performance of GeTe through in situ microdomain and Ge-vacancy control, 2019. Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 7(25):15181-15189.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

A highly reproducible sample preparation method for pure GeTe in a rhombohedral structure without converting to the cubic structure up to ∼500 °C is reported to show control of the Ge-vacancy level and the corresponding herringbone-structured microdomains. The thermoelectric figure-of-merit (ZT) for GeTe powder could be raised from ∼0.8 to 1.37 at high temperature (HT) near ∼500 °C by tuning the Ge-vacancy level through the applied reversible in situ route, which made it highly controllable and reproducible. The enhanced ZT of GeTe was found to be strongly correlated with both its significantly increased Seebeck coefficient (∼161 μV K−1 at 500 °C) and reduced thermal conductivity (∼2.62 W m−1 K−1 at 500 °C) for a sample with nearly vacancy-free thicker herringbone-structured microdomains in the suppressed rhombohedral-to-cubic structure phase transformation. The microdomain and crystal structures were identified with HR-TEM (high-resolution transmission electron microscopy) and powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), while electron probe micro-analysis (EPMA) was used to confirm the stoichiometry changes of Ge : Te. Theoretical calculations for GeTe with various Ge-vacancy levels suggested that the Fermi level shifts toward the valence band as a function of increasing the Ge-vacancy level, which is consistent with the increased hole-type carrier concentration (n) and effective mass (m*) deduced from the Hall measurements. The uniquely prepared sample of a near-vacancy-free GeTe in a rhombohedral structure at high temperature favoured an enhanced Seebeck coefficient in view of the converging L- and Σ-bands of the heavy effective mass at the Fermi level, while the high density domain boundaries for the domain of low carrier density were shown to reduce the total thermal conductivity effectively.

Chang, H-C, You H-J, Sankar R, Yang Y-J, Chen L-C, Chen K-H.  2019.  Enhanced Thermoelectric Performance via Oxygen Manipulation in BiCuTeO, 2019. MRS Advances. 4(8):499-505.: Materials Research Society AbstractWebsite

BiCuTeO is a potential thermoelectric material owing to its low thermal conductivity and high carrier concentration. However, the thermoelectric performance of BiCuTeO is still below average and has much scope for improvement. In this study, we manipulated the nominal oxygen content in BiCuTeO and synthesized BiCuTeOx (x = 0.94–1.06) bulks by a solid-state reaction and pelletized them by a cold-press method. The power factor was enhanced by varying the nominal oxygen deficiency due to the increased Seebeck coefficient. The thermal conductivity was also reduced due to the decrease in lattice thermal conductivity owing to the small grain size generated by the optimal nominal oxygen content. Consequently, the ZT value was enhanced by ∼11% at 523 K for stoichiometric BiCuTeO0.94 compared to BiCuTeO. Thus, optimal oxygen manipulation in BiCuTeO can enhance the thermoelectric performance. This study can be applied to developing oxides with high thermoelectric performances.

Sabhapathy, P, Liao C-C, Chen W-F, Chou T-chin, Shown I, Sabbah A, Lin Y-G, Lee J-F, Tsai M-K, Chen K-H, Chen L-C.  2019.  Highly efficient nitrogen and carbon coordinated N–Co–C electrocatalysts on reduced graphene oxide derived from vitamin-B12 for the hydrogen evolution reaction, 2019. Journal of Materials Chemistry A. 7(12):7179-7185.: The Royal Society of Chemistry AbstractWebsite

Exploring electrocatalysts composed of earth-abundant elements for a highly efficient hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is scientifically and technologically important for electrocatalytic water splitting. In this work, we report HER properties of acid treated pyrolyzed vitamin B12 supported on reduced graphene oxide (B12/G800A) that shows an extraordinarily enhanced catalytic activity with low overpotential (115 mV vs. RHE at 10 mA cm−2), which is better than that of most traditional nonprecious metal catalysts in acidic media. Stability tests through long-term potential cycles and at a constant current density confirm the exceptional durability of the catalyst. Notably, the B12/G800A catalyst exhibits extremely high turnover frequencies per cobalt site in acid, for example, 0.85 and 11.46 s−1 at overpotentials of 100 and 200 mV, respectively, which are higher than those reported for other scalable non-precious metal HER catalysts. Moreover, it has been conjectured that the covalency of Co–C and Co–N bonds affects HER activities by comparing the extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectra of the B12/G800A. High-temperature treatment can modify the Co-corrin structure of B12 to form Co–C bonds along with Co–N, which broadens the band of cobalt, essentially lowering the d-band center from its Fermi level. The lower d-band center leads to a moderate hydrogen binding energy, which is favorable for hydrogen adsorption and desorption.

Pathak, A, Shen J-W, Usman M, Wei L-F, Mendiratta S, Chang Y-S, Sainbileg B, Ngue C-M, Chen R-S, Hayashi M, Luo T-T, Chen F-R, Chen K-H, Tseng T-W, Chen L-C, Lu K-L.  2019.  Integration of a (–Cu–S–)n plane in a metal–organic framework affords high electrical conductivity, 2019. 10(1):1721. AbstractWebsite

Designing highly conducting metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) is currently a subject of great interest for their potential applications in diverse areas encompassing energy storage and generation. Herein, a strategic design in which a metal–sulfur plane is integrated within a MOF to achieve high electrical conductivity, is successfully demonstrated. The MOF {[Cu2(6-Hmna)(6-mn)]·NH4}n (1, 6-Hmna = 6-mercaptonicotinic acid, 6-mn = 6-mercaptonicotinate), consisting of a two dimensional (–Cu–S–)n plane, is synthesized from the reaction of Cu(NO3)2, and 6,6′-dithiodinicotinic acid via the in situ cleavage of an S–S bond under hydrothermal conditions. A single crystal of the MOF is found to have a low activation energy (6 meV), small bandgap (1.34 eV) and a highest electrical conductivity (10.96 S cm−1) among MOFs for single crystal measurements. This approach provides an ideal roadmap for producing highly conductive MOFs with great potential for applications in batteries, thermoelectric, supercapacitors and related areas.