Matching Items (33)

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Simulation of Atomic Structure around Defects in Anatase

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Titanium dioxide is an essential material under research for energy and environmental applications, chiefly through its photocatalytic properties. These properties allow it to be used for water-splitting, detoxification, and photovoltaics, in addition to its conventional uses in pigmentation and

Titanium dioxide is an essential material under research for energy and environmental applications, chiefly through its photocatalytic properties. These properties allow it to be used for water-splitting, detoxification, and photovoltaics, in addition to its conventional uses in pigmentation and sunscreen. Titanium dioxide exists in several polymorphic structures, of which the most common are rutile and anatase. We focused on anatase for the purposes of this research, due to its promising results for hydrolysis.

Anatase exists often in its reduced form (TiO2-x), enabling it to perform redox reactions through the absorption and release of oxygen into/from the crystal lattice. These processes result in structural changes, induced by defects in the material, which can theoretically be observed using advanced characterization methods. In situ electron microscopy is one of such methods, and can provide a window into these structural changes. However, in order to interpret the structural evolution caused by defects in materials, it is often necessary and pertinent to use atomistic simulations to compare the experimental images with models.

In this thesis project, we modeled the defect structures in anatase, around oxygen vacancies and at surfaces, using molecular dynamics, benchmarked with density functional theory. Using a “reactive” forcefield designed for the simulation of interactions between anatase and water that can model and treat bonding through the use of bond orders, different vacancy structures were analyzed and simulated. To compare these theoretical, generated models with experimental data, the “multislice approach” to TEM image simulation was used. We investigated a series of different vacancy configurations and surfaces and generated fingerprints for comparison with TEM experiments. This comparison demonstrated a proof of concept for a technique suggesting the possibility for the identification of oxygen vacancy structures directly from TEM images. This research aims to improve our atomic-level understanding of oxide materials, by providing a methodology for the analysis of vacancy formation from very subtle phenomena in TEM images.

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2019-05

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A Modelling Approach to Determine Gas and Temperature Profiles during Catalytic Reactions in Environmental Transmission Electron Microscopy

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A scheme has been developed for finding the gas and temperature profiles in an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM), using COMSOL Multiphysics and the finite element method (FEM). This model should permit better correlation between catalyst structure and activity, by

A scheme has been developed for finding the gas and temperature profiles in an environmental transmission electron microscope (ETEM), using COMSOL Multiphysics and the finite element method (FEM). This model should permit better correlation between catalyst structure and activity, by providing a more accurate understanding of gas composition than the assumption of homogeneity typically used. While more data is needed to complete the model, current progress has identified several details about the system and its ideal modeling approach.
It is found that at the low pressures and flowrates of catalysis in ETEM, natural and forced convection are negligible forms of heat transfer. Up to 250 °C, radiation is also negligible. Gas conduction, being enhanced at low pressures, dominates.
Similarly, mass transport is dominated by diffusion, which is most accurately described by the Maxwell-Stefan model. Bulk fluid flow is highly laminar, and in fact borders the line between continuum and molecular flow. The no-slip boundary condition does not apply here, and both viscous slip and thermal creep must be considered. In the porous catalyst pellet considered in this work, Knudsen diffusion dominates, with bulk flow being best described by the Darcy-Brinkman equation.
With these physics modelled, it appears as though the gas homogeneity assumption is not completely accurate, breaking down in the porous pellet where reactions occur. While these results are not yet quantitative, this trend is likely to remain in future model iterations. It is not yet clear how significant this deviation is, though methods are proposed to minimize it if necessary.
Some model-experiment mismatch has been found which must be further explored. Experimental data shows a pressure dependence on the furnace temperature at constant power, a trend as-yet unresolvable by the model. It is proposed that this relates to the breakdown of the assumption of fluid continuity at low pressures and small dimensions, though no compelling mathematical formulation has been found. This issue may have significant ramifications on ETEM and ETEM experiment design.

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2017-05

In Situ and Operando Transmission Electron Microscopy of Catalytic Materials

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Catalytic nanomaterials play a major role in chemical conversions and energy transformations. Understanding how materials control and regulate surface reactions is a major objective for fundamental research on heterogeneous catalysts. In situ environmental transmission electron microscopy (ETEM) is a powerful

Catalytic nanomaterials play a major role in chemical conversions and energy transformations. Understanding how materials control and regulate surface reactions is a major objective for fundamental research on heterogeneous catalysts. In situ environmental transmission electron microscopy (ETEM) is a powerful technique for revealing the atomic structures of materials at elevated temperatures in the presence of reactive gases. This approach can allow the structure–reactivity relations underlying catalyst functionality to be investigated. Thus far, ETEM has been limited by the absence of in situ measurements of gas-phase catalytic products. To overcome this deficiency, operando TEM techniques are being developed that combine atomic characterization with the simultaneous measurement of catalytic products. This article provides a short review of the current status and major developments in the application of ETEM to gas-phase catalysis over the past 10 years.

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2015-01-01

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Characterization of Light-Absorbing Carbon Particles at Three Altitudes in East Asian Outflow by Transmission Electron Microscopy

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The morphology, microstructure, and composition of the submicron fraction of individual light-absorbing carbon (LAC) particles collected by research aircraft during the ACE-Asia (Asian Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment) project above the Yellow Sea at altitudes of 120, 450 and 1500

The morphology, microstructure, and composition of the submicron fraction of individual light-absorbing carbon (LAC) particles collected by research aircraft during the ACE-Asia (Asian Pacific Regional Aerosol Characterization Experiment) project above the Yellow Sea at altitudes of 120, 450 and 1500 m are investigated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). Two types of carbonaceous particles, small spherule soot with graphitic spherules and amorphous carbonaceous spheres (brown carbon), are found at all altitudes in high concentration. For soot particles, emphasis of the study is on the component subparticles (spherules). The nanoscopic structures of the small spherule soot show no significant difference at three altitudes although the size distribution of primary spherules showed that 70% of the total volume lies in the ranges 30–50, 50–85 and 30–50 nm, respectively. For the amorphous carbonaceous spheres, 70% of the total volume from three altitudes lies in the range 200–350, 160–470 and 150–320 nm, respectively. Within the size fraction studied (submicron, with most particles in the range 50 to 500 nm) the number concentration ratios of the amorphous carbonaceous spheres to primary spherules in soot at altitudes of 120, 450 and 1500 m are about 1, 1.5 and 10, respectively and their volume ratios are about 260, 50 and 1400. Lower relative concentrations of large spherule soot with intermediate graphitic structure were observed at 120 m. Also, low relative number concentrations of carbon cenospheres were observed at 120 and 1500 m. A key result of the study is that in vertically stratified outflow from East Asia, the character of LAC may have strong variance with altitude thus resulting in optical characteristics that vary with altitude. Also, apparent "aging" of LAC deduced from samples at multiple ground stations may instead reflect differences in the original carbon aerosols.

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2013-06-04

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Structural Evolution During Photocorrosion of Ni/NiO Core/Shell Cocatalyst on TiO2

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The Ni/NiO core/shell structure is one of the most efficient co-catalysts for solar water splitting when coupled with suitable semiconducting oxides. It has been shown that pretreated Ni/NiO core/shell structures are more active than pure Ni metal, pure NiO or

The Ni/NiO core/shell structure is one of the most efficient co-catalysts for solar water splitting when coupled with suitable semiconducting oxides. It has been shown that pretreated Ni/NiO core/shell structures are more active than pure Ni metal, pure NiO or mixed dispersion of Ni metal and NiO nanoparticles. However, Ni/NiO core/shell structures on TiO2 are only able to generate H2 but not O2 in aqueous water. The nature of the hydrogen evolution reaction in these systems was investigated by correlating photochemical H2 production with atomic resolution structure determined with aberration corrected electron microscopy. It was found that the core/shell structure plays an important role for H2 generation but the system undergoes deactivation due to a loss of metallic Ni. During the H2 evolution reaction, the metal core initially formed partial voids which grew and eventually all the Ni diffused out of the core-shell into solution leaving an inactive hollow NiO void structure. The H2 evolution was generated by a photochemical reaction involving photocorrosion of Ni metal.

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2015

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Effect of Defects on Calculation of Electron Energy Loss Spectra of Ceria and Titania

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Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing today's society.Since the late 19th century, the global average temperature has been rising. In order to minimize the temperature increase of the earth, it is necessary to develop alternative energy technologies

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing today's society.Since the late 19th century, the global average temperature has been rising. In order to minimize the temperature increase of the earth, it is necessary to develop alternative energy technologies that do not depend on fossil fuels. Solar fuels are one potential energy source for the future. Solar fuel technologies use catalysts to convert low energy molecules into fuels via artificial photosynthesis. TiO2, or titania, is an important model photocatalyst for studying these reactions. It is also important to use remaining fossil fuel resources efficiently and with the lowest possible greenhouse gas emissions. Fuel cells are electrochemical devices that aim to accomplish this goal and CeO2, or ceria, is an important material used in these devices. One way to observe the atomic structure of a material is with a transmission electron microscope (TEM). A traditional transmission electron microscope employs a beam of fast electrons to form atomic resolution images of a material. While imaging gives information about the positions of the atoms in the material, spectroscopy gives information about the composition and bonding of the material. A type of spectroscopy that can be performed inside the transmission electron microscope is electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS), which provides a fundamental understanding of the electronic structure of a material. The energy loss spectrum also contains information on the chemical bonding in the material, and theoretical calculations that model the spectra are essential to correctly interpreting this bonding information. FEFF is a software that performs EELS calculations. Calculations of the oxygen K edges of TiO2 and CeO2 were made using FEFF in order to understand the changes that occur in the spectrum when oxygen vacancies are introduced as well as the changes near a grain boundary.

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2013-12

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Growth of gaN nanowires: a study using in situ transmission electron microscopy

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Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths.

Owing to their special characteristics, group III-Nitride semiconductors have attracted special attention for their application in a wide range of optoelectronic devices. Of particular interest are their direct and wide band gaps that span from ultraviolet to the infrared wavelengths. In addition, their stronger bonds relative to the other compound semiconductors makes them thermally more stable, which provides devices with longer life time. However, the lattice mismatch between these semiconductors and their substrates cause the as-grown films to have high dislocation densities, reducing the life time of devices that contain these materials. One possible solution for this problem is to substitute single crystal semiconductor nanowires for epitaxial films. Due to their dimensionality, semiconductor nanowires typically have stress-free surfaces and better physical properties. In order to employ semiconductor nanowires as building blocks for nanoscale devices, a precise control of the nanowires' crystallinity, morphology, and chemistry is necessary. This control can be achieved by first developing a deeper understanding of the processes involved in the synthesis of nanowires, and then by determining the effects of temperature and pressure on their growth. This dissertation focuses on understanding of the growth processes involved in the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation and growth events were observed in situ and controlled in real-time using an environmental transmission electron microscope. These observations provide a satisfactory elucidation of the underlying growth mechanism during the formation of GaN nanowires. Nucleation of these nanowires appears to follow the vapor-liquid-solid mechanism. However, nanowire growth is found to follow both the vapor-liquid-solid and vapor-solid-solid mechanisms. Direct evidence of the effects of III/V ratio on nanowire growth is also reported, which provides important information for tailoring the synthesis of GaN nanowires. These findings suggest in situ electron microscopy is a powerful tool to understand the growth of GaN nanowires and also that these experimental approach can be extended to study other binary semiconductor compound such as GaP, GaAs, and InP, or even ternary compounds such as InGaN. However, further experimental work is required to fully elucidate the kinetic effects on the growth process. A better control of the growth parameters is also recommended.

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2010

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Optimization of ionic conductivity in doped ceria using density functional theory and kinetic lattice Monte Carlo

Description

Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to

Fuel cells, particularly solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), are important for the future of greener and more efficient energy sources. Although SOFCs have been in existence for over fifty years, they have not been deployed extensively because they need to be operated at a high temperature (∼1000 °C), are expensive, and have slow response to changes in energy demands. One important need for commercialization of SOFCs is a lowering of their operating temperature, which requires an electrolyte that can operate at lower temperatures. Doped ceria is one such candidate. For this dissertation work I have studied different types of doped ceria to understand the mechanism of oxygen vacancy diffusion through the bulk. Doped ceria is important because they have high ionic conductivities thus making them attractive candidates for the electrolytes of solid oxide fuel cells. In particular, I have studied how the ionic conductivities are improved in these doped materials by studying the oxygen-vacancy formations and migrations. In this dissertation I describe the application of density functional theory (DFT) and Kinetic Lattice Monte Carlo (KLMC) simulations to calculate the vacancy diffusion and ionic conductivities in doped ceria. The dopants used are praseodymium (Pr), gadolinium (Gd), and neodymium (Nd), all belonging to the lanthanide series. The activation energies for vacancy migration between different nearest neighbor (relative to the dopant) positions were calculated using the commercial DFT code VASP (Vienna Ab-initio Simulation Package). These activation energies were then used as inputs to the KLMC code that I co-developed. The KLMC code was run for different temperatures (673 K to 1073 K) and for different dopant concentrations (0 to 40%). These simulations have resulted in the prediction of dopant concentrations for maximum ionic conductivity at a given temperature.

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2011

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Synthesis and electrochemical characterization of silicon clathrates as anode materials for lithium ion batteries

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Novel materials for Li-ion batteries is one of the principle thrust areas for current research in energy storage, more so than most, considering its widespread use in portable electronic gadgets and plug-in electric and hybrid cars. One of the major

Novel materials for Li-ion batteries is one of the principle thrust areas for current research in energy storage, more so than most, considering its widespread use in portable electronic gadgets and plug-in electric and hybrid cars. One of the major limiting factors in a Li-ion battery's energy density is the low specific capacities of the active materials in the electrodes. In the search for high-performance anode materials for Li-ion batteries, many alternatives to carbonaceous materials have been studied. Both cubic and amorphous silicon can reversibly alloy with lithium and have a theoretical capacity of 3500 mAh/g, making silicon a potential high density anode material. However, a large volume expansion of 300% occurs due to changes in the structure during lithium insertion, often leading to pulverization of the silicon. To this end, a class of silicon based cage compounds called clathrates are studied for electrochemical reactivity with lithium. Silicon-clathrates consist of silicon covalently bonded in cage structures comprised of face sharing Si20, Si24 and/or Si28 clusters with guest ions occupying the interstitial positions in the polyhedra. Prior to this, silicon clathrates have been studied primarily for their superconducting and thermoelectric properties. In this work, the synthesis and electrochemical characterization of two categories of silicon clathrates - Type-I silicon clathrate with aluminum framework substitution and barium guest ions (Ba8AlxSi46-x) and Type-II silicon clathrate with sodium guest ions (Nax Si136), are explored. The Type-I clathrate, Ba8AlxSi46-x consists of an open framework of aluminium and silicon, with barium (guest) atoms occupying the interstitial positions. X-ray diffraction studies have shown that a crystalline phase of clathrate is obtained from synthesis, which is powdered to a fine particle size to be used as the anode material in a Li-ion battery. Electrochemical measurements of these type of clathrates have shown that capacities comparable to graphite can be obtained for up to 10 cycles and lower capacities can be obtained for up to 20 cycles. Unlike bulk silicon, the clathrate structure does not undergo excessive volume change upon lithium intercalation, and therefore, the crystal structure is morphologically stable over many cycles. X-ray diffraction of the clathrate after cycling showed that crystallinity is intact, indicating that the clathrate does not collapse during reversible intercalation with lithium ions. Electrochemical potential spectroscopy obtained from the cycling data showed that there is an absence of formation of lithium-silicide, which is the product of lithium alloying with diamond cubic silicon. Type II silicon clathrate, NaxSi136, consists of silicon making up the framework structure and sodium (guest) atoms occupying the interstitial spaces. These clathrates showed very high capacities during their first intercalation cycle, in the range of 3,500 mAh/g, but then deteriorated during subsequent cycles. X-ray diffraction after one cycle showed the absence of clathrate phase and the presence of lithium-silicide, indicating the disintegration of clathrate structure. This could explain the silicon-like cycling behavior of Type II clathrates.

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Date Created
2013

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Electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties of the copper hydroxyphosphate mineral libethenite

Description

There has been much interest in photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy in recent years due to its potential for low-–cost, sustainable and renewable production of fuels. Despite the huge potential, there are still a number of technical barriers due to

There has been much interest in photoelectrochemical conversion of solar energy in recent years due to its potential for low-–cost, sustainable and renewable production of fuels. Despite the huge potential, there are still a number of technical barriers due to the many constraints needed in order to drive photoelectrochemical reactions such as overall water splitting and the identification of efficient and effective semiconductor materials. To this end, the search for novel semiconductors that can act as light absorbers is still needed. The copper hydroxyphosphate mineral libethenite (CHP), which has a chemical formula of Cu2(OH)PO4, has been recently shown to be active for photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue under UV-–irradiation, indicating that photo-excited electrons and holes can effectively be generated and separated in this material. However, CHP has not been well studied and many of its fundamental electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties are still unknown. In this work, the synthesis of different morphologies of CHP using hydrothermal synthesis and precipitation methods were explored. Additionally, a preliminary investigation of the relevant fundamental characteristics such as the bandgap, flatband potential, band diagram, electrochemical and photoelectrochemical properties for CHP was performed. Better understanding of the properties of this material may lead to the development of improved catalysts and photocatalysts from natural sources.

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2013