Available student project - Solar Hydrogen Generation from Rust using 3-D Nanostructured Photoelectrodes

Research fields

  • Nanoscience and Nanotechnology
  • Clean Energy
FESEM image of a 3-D nanostructured film

Project details

The quest for abundant, renewable energy is currently one of the world’s greatest technological challenges. One solution to this problem is the conversion of solar energy to storable chemical fuels, such as H2. Hydrogen generated from solar-driven electrolysis of water has the potential to provide clean, sustainable, abundant and transportable energy. Towards realizing this goal, artificial photosynthetic approaches such as photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells are being extensively investigated. A PEC cell requires a semiconductor electrode that fulfills several essential prerequisites: a small semiconductor bandgap for efficiently harvesting a large proportion of the solar spectrum, appropriate band edges for water oxidation and reduction, high conversion efficiency of photogenerated carriers to hydrogen, durability in aqueous environments, and low cost. 

Hematite (α-Fe2O3), often referred to as “rust”, is a promising electrode material for photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation from water – it has low cost, good long-term stability and absorbs light efficiently. However, its use is limited by its poor electrical conductivity. In this project, a novel host-guest nanostructure will be developed that exploits the beneficial light-absorption properties of hematite (the guest) but shifts the charge transport function to a nanostructured transparent conductive oxide (TCO) host. The specific objectives of this project are:

• Develop a novel hematite electrode based on a porous 3D nanostructured TCO film as a host for an
extremely thin hematite layer
• Understand the mechanism of charge separation and transport in these photoanodes based on the host-guest nanostructure approach through systematic investigations employing time-resolved absorption spectroscopy and electrochemical impedance measurements.

Depending on the interests of the student and the length of the course, various aspects of the project can be tailored to suit the student.

Project suitability

This research project can be tailored to suit students of the following type(s)
  • 3rd year special project
  • Honours project
  • Phd or Masters

Contact supervisor

Karuturi, Siva profile
ARC DECRA Fellow
50355

Other supervisor(s)

Tan, Hoe profile
Head of Department
50356

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster