Lionel Vayssieres, International Research Center for Renewable Energy, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xian 710049, PR China
The demand of novel functional materials has become the major challenge scientists face to answer crucial contemporary issues such as alternative energy sources. For instance, one of the promising alternatives for the transition of energy resource from its fossil fuel-based beginning to a clean and renewable technology relies on the widespread implementation of solar-related energy systems, however the high cost of energy production and low-energy of currently used material combinations pose an intrinsic limitation. In this context, revolutionary materials development is required to achieve the necessary dramatic increases in power generation and conversion efficiency. The necessity of materials development which is not limited to materials that can achieve their theoretical limits, but makes it possible to raise theoretical limits by changing the fundamental underlying physics and chemistry is crucial. Low cost purpose-built, functional materials with optimized geometry, orientation, and aspect ratio combined with inexpensive large scale manufacturing methods will play a decisive role in the success of materials for renewable energy. However, fabricating and manufacturing large area of such functional materials is a daunting challenge. Novel smarter and cheaper fabrication techniques and, just as important, better fundamental knowledge and comprehensive understanding of materials and their syntheses as well as their properties using nanoscale phenomena such as quantum confinements to create multi-functional structures and devices is the key to success. R&D exploiting Nanoscience and Nanotechnology has the greatest potential to reach such challenging goals.
Such ideas will be demonstrated by the thermodynamic modeling, low-cost aqueous design and fabrication of highly oriented crystalline arrays of metal oxide quantum dots and rods-based structures and devices with controlled orientation, size and shape onto various substrates designed at nano-, meso-, and micro-scale by aqueous chemical growth at low-temperature. In addition, the in-depth characterization of their electronic structure and quantum confinement performed at synchrotron radiation facilities and their applications for solar hydrogen generation, photovoltaics, magnetic and gas sensor devices will be presented.
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