Materials Chemistry in Search of Energy Materials : Photovoltaics and Photoluminescence
One third of world’s total energy is used in production of electricity and one fifth of the total electricity produced in the world is used in lighting. Hence, the materials that have high potential in the field of photovoltaic’s and photoluminescence have recently drawn special attention to meet the ever increasing energy demands. In this thesis, we have studied a few materials that hold tremendous promises in fabricating photovoltaics and photoluminescent devices. Any ferroelectric material is an efficient solar energy converter as it contains an the intrinsic dipolar field which can effectively separate the photo excited electron and hole. We have developed a few materials which possess inherent polarization efficiently absorb over a wide portion of the solar spectrum and hence can find application in the field of photovoltaics. Secondly, we also dealt with semiconductor nonmaterial’s which are technologically very important owing to their improved photoluminescence properties. We tried to improve their light emitting efficiency by engineering crystal structure in nanometer length scales. The thesis deals with such advanced energy materials and is divided in seven chapters. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to the fundamental concepts that are relevant in the subsequent chapters. The chapter is started with a brief scenario of current status of energy production and its usage. Next, we have discussed the prospects of ferroelectric materials in photovoltaic devices. This is followed by a brief background on ferroelectricity and related properties which we have studied subsequently. At the end of this chapter a brief overview of photoluminescence properties in semiconductor nonmaterial’s is presented. In this section we have addressed the particular issues that need to be taken care of in order to improve their light emission properties. Chapter 2 describes different experimental and theoretical methods that have been employed to carry out different studies presented in the thesis. Chapter 3 addresses the possibility of employing BaTiO3 (BTO) based composite perovskite oxides as a potent photovoltaic material. It is known that BTO can produce photocurrent upon excitation with suitable light source. However, inability of BTO to absorb sufficient sunlight owing to its near UV band gap prevents to make use of this material in photovoltaic devices. In order to reduce the band gap we have tried to tune the electronic structure at the band edge by doping non-d0 transition metal ions at Ti site. As it is known in the literature an isovalent substitution of Ti4+ stabilizes non-polar phase of BTO we employed a co-doping strategy to substitute tetravalent Ti with equal percentage of a trivalent and a pentavalent metal ion. Keeping in mind off-centering of Ti4+ is primary reason behind the large ferroelectric polarization of BTO, a judicious choice of co-dopant was necessary to minimize reduction of polarization due to replacement of Ti. We have found at least two pairs of co-dopants, namely Mn3+-Nb5+ and Fe3+-Nb5+ which at low doping concentration ( < 10%) effectively reduces the band gap of BTO without affecting its polarization to a large extent. We systematically increase the doping concentration of both the pair of dopants and found Mn3+-Nb5+ pair is more efficient over Fe3+-Nb5+ both in terms of reducing band gap and retaining the polarization of BTO. We have characterized the ferroelectric nature of all the doped compositions with the help of dielectric, polarization and pyroelectric measurements. We have also performed first principle density functional theory (DFT) calculations for an equivalent doped composition and addressed the nature of modulations of electronic structure at the band edges which is responsible for such large reduction of band gap. Chapter 4 deals with composite perovskite materials which posses large tetragonal distortions with reduced optical band gaps. Here we have exploited Cu-Nb and Cu-Ta pair which upon complete substitution of Ti of BTO leads to composite perovskites with enhanced tetragonal distortion of the perovskite lattice. For two resultant compositions, namely BaCu1/3Nb2/3O3 and BaCu 1/3Ta2/3O3 we have characterized the optical and ferroelectric properties. We found though these material possess small band gap (∼ 2 eV), these are not ferroelectric in nature. Results of second harmonic generation measurements and refinement of powder X-ray diffraction both establish Centro symmetric nature of these materials. We infer from these results that presence of large tetragonal distortion is a result of symmetric Jahn-Teller type distortion of Cu2+ and not due to off-centering of any of the metal ions in their MO6 octahedral geometries. In Chapter 5, we have considered the material SrTiO3 (STO) which is stable in cubic paraelectric phase at room temperature. But at the same time this material is considered as an incipient ferroelectric due to presence of an active polar vibrational mode which does not become completely soft even at temperature close to 0 K. While this polar vibrational mode can easily be frozen by making substitution at Sr site, a similar attempt by making substitution at Ti site failed earlier. Keeping in mind Ti is easier to substitute than Sr we employed same co-doping strategy that we have considered in Chapter 3. We found Mn- Nb and Mn-Ta co-dopants at low doping concentration are extremely useful in transforming incipient ferroelectric STO into a dipolar glass. We have characterized the glassy dipolar property of doped STO with the help of tem-perature dependent dielectric response of these material. At the same time we found these co-doped STO possess enhanced static dielectric constant at room temperature with favourable dielectric loss values in comparison to pure STO. We have also ad-dressed the origin of a glassy dipolar state with the help of DFT calculation performed on equivalent doped composition that we have considered for our experiments. In Chapter 6, we have considered another incipient ferroelectric material TiO2 in rutile phase which also possess polar vibrational mode at temperature close to 0 K. A lattice strain along the polar vibrational mode make symmetric non-polar structure unstable with respect to the distorted polar structure. In this context, we found two particular compositions FeTiTaO6 and CrTiTaO6 that are also stable in rutile phases at room temperature but possess similar strain due to presence of larger Fe or Cr and Ta in rutile lattice. Considering the fact these two composite rutile oxides are relaxer ferroelectric in nature, we critically evaluated the effect of the particular kind of strain that these materials introduce in rutile lattice. We also characterized relaxor ferroelectric property and optical band gap of these materials and commented on the potential of these materials in exploiting them in photovoltaic devices. Chapter 7 presents a unique strategy of making use of crystal defects in improving photoluminescent properties of semiconductor nanocrystals. We have shown defects when introduced in nanocrystals in a controlled protected manner efficiently overcome the problem of self absorption which is known to reduce quantum efficiency of emit-ted light. Controlling synthesis conditions we separately prepared CdS nanocrystals with and without intergrowth defects. We characterized the presence of the intergrowth defect with the help of high resolution transmission electron microscope (HRTEM) image. We have also characterized Stokes’ shifted PL emission and ultrafast charge carrier dynamics of these NCs with intergrowth defects. To support these experimental findings we have computed the electronic structures of model nanoclusters possessing similar intergrowth defects that has been observed in HRTEM images. We find that the presence of defects in a nanocluster particularly affect the position of the band edge. However our joint density of state calculation shows that contribution of these defect states to an absorption spectra is negligible. Thus presence of defect states at band edge ensures a Stokes’ shifted emission without affecting the position of absorption. In a separate section of this chapter we have shown apart from intergrowth defects presence of twin boundary also provide similar mid-gap states that can alter its’ optical proper-ties to large extent. In summary, we have studied a few bulk and nano-materials which can show improved photovoltaic and photoluminescence property. We investigated effect of external dopant ions on a classical ferroelectric material BaTiO3 and two incipient ferroelectric materials SrTiO3 and rutile TiO2. We have also shown that efficient defect engineering could be extremely useful in improving photoluminescent property of CdS nanocrystals which is a prototype of II-VI semiconductor nanomaterials. In a separate Appendix Chapter, we have shown an easy and efficient way to suppress coffee ring effect which takes place universally when a drop of colloidal suspension is dried on a solid substrate. We have shown temporary modification of hydropho-bicity of a glass substrate not only can suppress the coffee ring effect but also leaves the particle in a highly ordered self-assembled phase after completion of drying process
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