Indium tin oxide (ITO) is today one of the most widely used material as transparent conductive electrode. However, ITO is constrained by high cost and availability of In. This created the necessity to investigate in In-fee oxides and nano-structures as alternative materials that avoid scarce raw elements in terms of Earth sustainability. The aim is to study other nano-structures with different dopants, and graphene-anonocomposites functionalized with these oxide-nanoparticles. The expected outcomes are: synthesis and characterization of oxide-based nano-structures; joint PhD candidates and Master students; and to build a strong platform for joint proposals to be submitted to the European funding schemes in the future. The results may be useful for wide range applications on energy production, energy storage and environmental monitoring applications. The role of the donor partner is the theoretical and experimental study of defects in nano-structures and nano-composites. The project intends to establish the basis of a long-standing cooperation between the partners, which could be open to additional participants and groups.
Summary of project results
Indium tin oxide (ITO) is today one of the most widely used material as transparent conductive electrode. However, ITO is constrained by high cost and availability of In (in the next 15-20 years perspective). This created the necessity to investigate In-free oxides and nanostructures as alternative materials that avoid scarce raw elements in terms of Earth sustainability. The aim of this proposal is the study of SnO2, TiO2, and Ga2O3 nanostructures with different dopants, and graphene nanocomposites functionalized with these oxide-nanoparticles. The project outcomes are: synthesis and characterization of the above oxide-based nanostructures, understanding the up-conversion mechanisms in optical sensing devices in oxides and graphene functionalized by the oxide nanoparticles; joint PhD candidates; and building a strong platform for joint proposals to be submitted to the European financing initiatives in the future. Very recently, new materials like tin, titanium and gallium oxides and nanocomposites based on graphene have just been proposed as a real alternative to the convectional conducting transparent electrodes. All of them, presenting very interesting physics and chemicals properties, are in the focus of several studies to increase the scientific and technological knowledge related to the synthesis, characterization and implementation of this new class of materials into devices. This project achieved to obtain nanostructures of the previously mentioned materials and to understand the mechanisms involved in the electronic process that make them suitable for functionalization in optical gas sensors, battery electrodes, and solar cells. The IFE mainly focuses on industrial projects, had has expertise on single, multi-crystalline and porous Si-based solar cells, surface plasmons, photonic crystals, new materials and defects, transparent conducting oxides, polymers, transparent ionic conductors, application of metal hybrids, and graphene in solar cells. Its role in the project is the theoretical and experimental study of defects in nanostructures and nanocomposites. The Spanish team contributed with synthesis and characterization issues. The group used as a main set of techniques, those related to scanning electron microscopy as well as scanning tunnelling microscopy, atomic force microscopy and several optical spectroscopies. The results of the Project will contribute to the advance of the knowledge as international publications and patents.
Summary of bilateral results
The collaboration of both research teams gave rise to the synergy needed to achieve the proposed objectives. Both teams were benefiting from the collaborative work during the duration of the project. The Spanish team is applying the results obtained from the simulation of the Norwegian group to selected the materials to be grown. On the other hand, the experimental characterization carried out by the Spanish team, provide realistic data that serve as input for the simulations. It is expected a continuous feedback between the groups even beyond the finalization of the present project as now both teams are focused on the joint publications of results and the application for 1 or 2 joint patents. Partners have submitted a joint proposal to the Marie Sklodowska Curie Action: Innovative training Networks (ITN) 2015 call (“Up-FUN proposal), and to COST Action (1Dimensional Nanostructures of Inorganic Compounds for Technological Applications). Besides the scientific activities and experiments performed within the project, the promoter applied and obtained funding to organize a Summer School on “Nanomaterials for energy and environmental applications, 29 June to 3 July 2015, in El Escorial (Spain). They also were funded to organize an International Workshop entitled “Sustainable oxide materials and nano-structures for energy related applications”, in Kjeller (Norway). Both activities contributed to a higher visibility of the project and its results, to enlarge partnerships and to strengthen cooperation and synergies between partners. It is clear that, the bidirectional flow of knowledge between the two involved teams and their complementary background skills have contributed to the success of the project.