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HE ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2024-2025

Photoelectrodes that STORE LIGHT energy

Abstract: The European Green Deal requires novel solutions for renewable energy. Solar energy is not constant and hence an unstable power source owing to its intermittent nature. Therefore, storage of solar energy is an important issue. Our new technology combines solar energy conversion and storage into one, thus delivering the opportunity to exploit the benefits of solar energy conversion also beyond the availability of sunlight. Our compact two-in-one technology avoids the need to connect two separate devices, thus lowering maintenance cost and technological support, connection losses and device bulkiness, together providing a more efficient and easy solution towards the integration in the daily life or to other functional systems. The proposed technology develops a stand-alone photo-storage system that functions as a photon energy harvester and converter and in the same time as an energy storage compartment. The development of integrated solar-to-charge storage systems are of major importance to exploit the full potential of solar energy, and in the same time extending the limits of conventional energy storage systems. A photo-responsive storage system as planned in STORE-LIGHT, achieving direct and seamless solar energy conversion and storage in one single compact architecture, would be a transformative approach to power off-grid devices. Such unique photo-to-charge storage technology will ultimately affect extended application areas such as self-powered sensors or the next-generation in micro-electronics and IoT.

Total budget: 150.000,00€

Total contribution: 150.000,00€


HE ERC Proof of Concept Grant 2022-2024

Conductive oxide-based dispersions from non-critical raw materials for functional nanoinks

Abstract: Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) inks combine high transparency in the visible and high electrical conductivity with the benefits of solution processing for printable electronics. The most promising TCO, Sn:In2O3 (ITO), is currently being replaced on the transparent conductive inks market due to supply risk of ITO. Alternatives range from silver flakes, to copper pastes, or graphene and other carbon based materials. However, the remarkable environmental stability, chemical tunability, and optoelectronic properties of TCOs remain unbeaten. Hence, it is time to invest into good alternative TCO inks from non-critical raw materials. In CONDINKS, we have identified some of the major issue, limiting the performance of TCO nanocrystals in conductive inks related to 1) their electronic structure and depletion layer formation and (2) dopant segregation. Segregated on the surface, dopants might remain inactive and, hence, do not contribute to the conductivity. Segregated in the core might result into large depletion layers. Both effects significantly influence thin film conductivity in particular on the nanoscale. The solution offered by CONDINKS is based on two objectives: 1. Making conductive inks from non-critical raw materials with properties competing with benchmark systems through nanoscale dopant engineering; 2. Upscaling of the produced materials, with first attempts towards reactors in aqueous-based flow synthesis processes. The breakthrough innovation of our product is immediately obvious: similar (or superior) properties to commercially available materials with lower cost and lower supply risk. CONDINKS has put together a team of researchers with industrial support to tackle the high-reaching goal to develop conductive inks based on non-critical raw materials with enhanced performance due to dopant engineering.

Total budget: 150.000,00€

Total contribution: 150.000,00€


H2020 ERC - Starting Grant 2020-2025

Light driven hybrid nanocrystal TMDC capacitors

Abstract: Sunlight is an intermittent energy source coupled to the availability of the sun. Light-DYNAMO aims for an innovative solution to directly store the solar energy. The challenge is to implement solution-processable light-driven nanocrystal capacitors (NCCs), such as doped metal oxides. They show high charge-storage capacity accumulating multiple delocalized electrons after light absorption. This was to date shown in solution only with the additional drawback of reducing the hole with a sacrificial hole scavenger. The innovative aspect of Light-DYNAMO is to use 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (2D TMDCs), such as MoS2 or WS2, as efficient hole acceptors in a solid state structure. The sensitivity of the TMDCs’ spatial electronic landscape to the local environment (i.e. strain, defects or doping) serves as driving force for energetically driven hole relocation within the TMDC. The electrons instead remain in the NCCs. This results in long-lasting and efficient charge separation and opens novel design principles. In optimized device structures, such stored carriers are extracted. The working principle of the suggested NC/TMDC hybrid device is based on several challenges: first, the absorption and charge storage capacity of the NCCs will be enhanced by exploring novel materials. Second, the TMDC’s sensitivity to the surrounding will be extracted to a high level of control over the 2D energy level distribution. Third, the intentional design of the energy landscape (e.g. through strain manipulation) in the optimized hybrid geometry will be introduced to control carrier redistribution after charge transfer within the TMDC. Finally, appropriate devices for carrier extraction will be structured. The proposal embarks on a pioneering study by the PI on optical control over carrier density in NCC/TMDC hybrids, advancing such novel systems to a level in which the incoming sunlight is harnessed, converted, stored as charges and released on demand to power an electric circuit.

Total budget: 1.500.000,00€

Total contribution: 1.500.000,00€