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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Nanomaterials for Energy Applications: From Photovoltaics to Plasmonic Catalysis

  • Author(s): Alvarez Barragan, Alejandro Jose
  • Advisor(s): Mangolini, Lorenzo
  • et al.

Energy applications are essential for the development of technologies capable of confronting the challenges inherent to a growing global population. Among the different renewable energies, the solar resource has advanced as the most promising due to its omnipresence in Earth life. This work investigates the synthesis and properties of three materials with the potential to contribute to the utilization and storage of solar energy. In detail, this dissertation addresses the feasibility of Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS) as a novel thin film photovoltaic material by studying the role of process parameters on the phase segregation and grain-to-grain homogeneity of CZTS thin films. It also studies the stability of silicon-carbon heterostructures for lithium-ion batteries and introduces a non-thermal plasma/chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process that offers good control on particle size and composition. Finally, this work presents a comprehensive investigation of plasmonic titanium nitride nanoparticles synthesized with a non-thermal plasma method. It demonstrates their potential as photocatalysts and photothermal absorbers with good thermal stability as compared to conventional plasmonic materials based on costly noble metals.

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