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Study of photoluminescence from amorphous and crystalline silicon nanoparticles synthesized using a non-thermal plasma

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High photoluminescence (PL) quantum yields reported from amorphous (a-Si) and crystalline (c-Si) nanoparticles have opened up lots of possibilities for use of silicon in optical applications such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), photonics and solar cells with added processing and

High photoluminescence (PL) quantum yields reported from amorphous (a-Si) and crystalline (c-Si) nanoparticles have opened up lots of possibilities for use of silicon in optical applications such as light emitting diodes (LEDs), photonics and solar cells with added processing and cost benefits. However, the PL response and the mechanisms behind it are highly dependent on the matrix in which the nanoparticles are grown and on the growth method. While, the bottom-up approach for deposition of free standing nanoparticles seem to be perfectly suited for large area deposition for LED and solar cell applications, the dominant growth techniques (laser ablation and pyrolysis) have been shown to suffer from limitations in control over size distribution of nanoparticles and the requirement of equipment capable of withstanding high temperature. This led to the exploration of plasma based synthesis methods in this work.

Towards this effort, the development and automation of a novel tool “Anny” for synthesis of silicon nanoparticles using non-thermal plasma chamber is reported. These nanoparticles are then accelerated due to choked flow through a nozzle leading to substrate independent deposition. The nanoparticle properties are characterized against precursor gas flow rates and RF power to identify the optimum growth conditions for a stable, continuous deposition. It is found that amorphous nanoparticles offer a wide variety of chamber conditions for growth with a high throughput, stable plasma for continuous, long term operations.

The quantum confinement model for crystalline and spatial confinement models for amorphous nanoparticles in our size regime (6-8nm) are suggested for free standing nanoparticles and we report a high PL output from well passivated amorphous nanoparticles.

The PL output and its dependence on stability of surface hydrogen passivation is explored using Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). It is shown that the amorphous nanoparticles have a better and more stable passivation compared to crystalline nanoparticles grown under similar conditions. Hence, we show a-Si nanoparticles as exciting alternatives for optical applications to c-Si nanoparticles.

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Date Created
2015

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Optimization of monocrystalline MgxCd1-xTe/MgyCd1-yTe double-heterostructure solar cells

Description

Polycrystalline CdS/CdTe solar cells continue to dominate the thin-film photovoltaics industry with an achieved record efficiency of over 22% demonstrated by First Solar, yet monocrystalline CdTe devices have received considerably less attention over the years. Monocrystalline CdTe double-heterostructure solar cells

Polycrystalline CdS/CdTe solar cells continue to dominate the thin-film photovoltaics industry with an achieved record efficiency of over 22% demonstrated by First Solar, yet monocrystalline CdTe devices have received considerably less attention over the years. Monocrystalline CdTe double-heterostructure solar cells show great promise with respect to addressing the problem of low Voc with the passing of the 1 V benchmark. Rapid progress has been made in driving the efficiency in these devices ever closer to the record presently held by polycrystalline thin-films. This achievement is primarily due to the utilization of a remote p-n heterojunction in which the heavily doped contact materials, which are so problematic in terms of increasing non-radiative recombination inside the absorber, are moved outside of the CdTe double heterostructure with two MgyCd1-yTe barrier layers to provide confinement and passivation at the CdTe surfaces. Using this design, the pursuit and demonstration of efficiencies beyond 20% in CdTe solar cells is reported through the study and optimization of the structure barriers, contacts layers, and optical design. Further development of a wider bandgap MgxCd1-xTe solar cell based on the same design is included with the intention of applying this knowledge to the development of a tandem solar cell constructed on a silicon subcell. The exploration of different hole-contact materials—ZnTe, CuZnS, and a-Si:H—and their optimization is presented throughout the work. Devices utilizing a-Si:H hole contacts exhibit open-circuit voltages of up to 1.11 V, a maximum total-area efficiency of 18.5% measured under AM1.5G, and an active-area efficiency of 20.3% for CdTe absorber based devices. The achievement of voltages beyond 1.1V while still maintaining relatively high fill factors with no rollover, either before or after open-circuit, is a promising indicator that this approach can result in devices surpassing the 22% record set by polycrystalline designs. MgxCd1-xTe absorber based devices have been demonstrated with open-circuit voltages of up to 1.176 V and a maximum active-area efficiency of 11.2%. A discussion of the various loss mechanisms present within these devices, both optical and electrical, concludes with the presentation of a series of potential design changes meant to address these issues.

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Date Created
2017

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Synthesis and functionalization of zinc oxide nanowires

Description

Zinc oxide nanowires ( NWs) have broad applications in various fields such as nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, piezoelectric nanogenerators, chemical/biological sensors, and heterogeneous catalysis. To meet the requirements for broader applications, the growth of high-quality ZnO NWs and functionalization of ZnO NWs

Zinc oxide nanowires ( NWs) have broad applications in various fields such as nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, piezoelectric nanogenerators, chemical/biological sensors, and heterogeneous catalysis. To meet the requirements for broader applications, the growth of high-quality ZnO NWs and functionalization of ZnO NWs are critical. In this work, specific types of functionalized ZnO NWs have been synthesized and correlations between specific structures and properties have been investigated. Deposition of δ-Bi2O3 (narrow band gap) epilayers onto ZnO (wide band gap) NWs improves the absorption efficiency of the visible light spectrum by 70%. Furthermore, the deposited δ-Bi2O3 grows selectively and epitaxially on the {11-20} but not on the {10-10} facets of the ZnO NWs. The selective epitaxial deposition and the interfacial structure were thoroughly investigated. The morphology and structure of the Bi2O3/ZnO nanocomposites can be tuned by controlling the deposition conditions.

Various deposition methods, both physical and chemical, were used to functionalize the ZnO NWs with metal or alloy nanoparticles (NPs) for catalytic transformations of important molecules which are relevant to energy and environment. Cu and PdZn NPs were epitaxially grown on ZnO NWs to make them resistant to sintering at elevated temperatures and thus improved the stability of such catalytic systems for methanol steam reforming (MSR) to produce hydrogen. A series of Pd/ZnO catalysts with different Pd loadings were synthesized and tested for MSR reaction. The CO selectivity was found to be strongly dependent on the size of the Pd: Both PdZn alloy and single Pd atoms yield low CO selectivity while Pd clusters give the highest CO selectivity.

By dispersing single Pd atoms onto ZnO NWs, Pd1/ZnO single-atom catalysts (SACs) was synthesized and their catalytic performance was evaluated for selected catalytic reactions. The experimental results show that the Pd1/ZnO SAC is active for CO oxidation and MSR but is not desirable other reactions. We further synthesized ZnO NWs supported noble metal (M1/ZnO; M=Rh, Pd, Pt, Ir) SACs and studied their catalytic performances for CO oxidation. The catalytic test data shows that all the fabricated noble metal SACs are active for CO oxidation but their activity are significantly different. Structure-performance relationships were investigated.

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Date Created
2017

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Improved synthesis and thermal stability of electrode-supported [alpha]-alumina separator for lithium ion batteries

Description

Lithium ion batteries have emerged as the most popular energy storage system, but they pose safety issues under extreme temperatures or in the event of a thermal runaway. Lithium ion batteries with inorganic separators offer the advantage of safer operation.

Lithium ion batteries have emerged as the most popular energy storage system, but they pose safety issues under extreme temperatures or in the event of a thermal runaway. Lithium ion batteries with inorganic separators offer the advantage of safer operation. An inorganic separator for lithium ion battery was prepared by an improved method of blade coating α-Al2O3 slurry directly on the electrode followed by drying. The improved separator preparation involves a twice-coating process instead of coating the slurry all at once in order to obtain a thin (~40 µm) and uniform coat. It was also found that α-Al2O3 powder with particle size greater than the pore size in the electrode is preferable for obtaining a separator with 40 µm thickness and consistent cell performance. Unlike state-of-the-art polyolefin separators such as polypropylene (PP) which are selectively wettable with only certain electrolytes, the excellent electrolyte solvent wettability of α-Al2O3 allows the coated alumina separator to function with different electrolytes. The coated α-Al2O3 separator has a much higher resistance to temperature effects than its polyolefin counterparts, retaining its dimensional integrity at temperatures as high as 200ºC. This eliminates the possibility of a short circuit during thermal runaway. Lithium ion batteries assembled as half-cells and full cells with coated α-Al2O3 separator exhibit electrochemical performance comparable with that of polyolefin separators at room temperature. However, the cells with coated alumina separator shows better cycling performance under extreme temperatures in the temperature range of -30°C to 60°C. Therefore, the coated α-Al2O3 separator is very promising for application in safe lithium-ion batteries.

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Date Created
2016

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Surface Treatment of Two-Dimensional Molybdenum Disulfide

Description

Two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) such as

molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), tungsten disulfide (WS2), molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2) and tungsten diselenide (WSe2) are attractive for use in biotechnology, optical and electronics devices due to their promising and tunable electrical, optical and chemical properties.

Two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) such as

molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), tungsten disulfide (WS2), molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2) and tungsten diselenide (WSe2) are attractive for use in biotechnology, optical and electronics devices due to their promising and tunable electrical, optical and chemical properties. To fulfill the variety of requirements for different applications, chemical treatment methods are developed to tune their properties. In this dissertation, plasma treatment, chemical doping and functionalization methods have been applied to tune the properties of TMDCs. First, plasma treatment of TMDCs results in doping and generation of defects, as well as the synthesis of transition metal oxides (TMOs) with rolled layers that have increased surface-to-volume ratio and are promising for electrochemical applications. Second, chemical functionalization is another powerful approach for tuning the properties of TMDCs for use in many applications. To covalently functionalize the basal planes of TMDCs, previous reports begin with harsh treatments like lithium intercalation that disrupt the structure and lead to a phase transformation from semiconducting to metallic. Instead, this work demonstrates the direct covalent functionalization of semiconducting MoS2 using aryl diazonium salts without lithium treatments. It preserves the structure and semiconducting nature of MoS2, results in covalent C-S bonds on basal planes and enables different functional groups to be tethered to the MoS2 surface via the diazonium salts. The attachment of fluorescent proteins has been used as a demonstration and it suggests future applications in biology and biosensing. The effects of the covalent functionalization on the electronic transport properties of MoS2 were then studied using field effect transistor (FET) devices.

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Date Created
2018

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The Influence of Water Content and Water Dose on Adhesion of Solar Module Interfaces

Description

Delamination of solar module interfaces often occurs in field-tested solar modules after decades of service due to environmental stressors such as humidity. In the presence of water, the interfaces between the encapsulant and the cell, glass, and backsheet all experience

Delamination of solar module interfaces often occurs in field-tested solar modules after decades of service due to environmental stressors such as humidity. In the presence of water, the interfaces between the encapsulant and the cell, glass, and backsheet all experience losses of adhesion, exposing the module to accelerated degradation. Understanding the relation between interfacial adhesion and water content inside photovoltaic modules can help mitigate detrimental power losses. Water content measurements via water reflectometry detection combined with 180° peel tests were used to study adhesion of module materials exposed to damp heat and dry heat conditions. The effect of temperature, cumulative water dose, and water content on interfacial adhesion between ethylene vinyl acetate and (1) glass, (2) front of the cell, and (3) backsheet was studied. Temperature and time decreased adhesion at all these interfaces. Water content in the sample during the measurement showed significant decreases in adhesion for the Backsheet/Ethylene vinyl acetate interface. Water dose showed little effect for the Glass/ Ethylene vinyl acetate and Backsheet/ Ethylene vinyl acetate interfaces, but there was significant adhesion loss with water dose at the front cell busbar/encapsulant interface. Initial tensile test results to monitor the effects of the mechanical properties ethylene vinyl acetate and backsheet showed water content increasing the strength of ethylene vinyl acetate during plastic deformation but no change in the strength of the backsheet properties. This mechanical property change is likely inducing variation along the peel interface to possibly convolute the adhesion measurements conducted or to explain the variation seen for the water saturated and dried peel test sample types.

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Date Created
2020