The composite is a photosensitizer, meaning it promotes chemical reactions in the presence of light. It has many potential applications for improving the efficiency of modern technology from solar panels to electricity and illuminating the future of renewable energy.
The study, published in Natural Chemistry on March 16, was conducted by researchers in the lab of Assistant Information Chemist Carsten Milsmann with the support of his National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
This technology currently relies on precious metals, such as iridium and ruthenium, to work. However, limited availability of these materials left in the world, which makes them unaffordable, difficult to access and expensive.
“We have observed that there are very few attempts to study titanium and zirconium because it is at times difficult to work with. “Said Milsmann.” We hope to change that. ”
Milsmann’s combination is made from zirconium, which is very compact and easy to achieve, making it a sustainable and very affordable option. The combination also stabilizes with various conditions, such as wind, water and temperature changes, making it easy to work with in different environments.
Since the combination can convert light into electrical energy, it can be used to create more efficient solar panels.
Solar panels are usually made using silicon and require a small amount of light to collect and store energy. Instead of using silicon, researchers have long been exploring alternatives to dye-based devices, in which colored molecules collect light and operate in low-light conditions. As an added benefit, this also allows for the production of transparent components. To date, the necessary dyes have relied heavily on the essential ruthenium, but Milsmann’s new compound may replace it in the future.
“Solar panels do not work well on overcast days. They are effective, low-cost and have a long life, but they need light conditions to work well,” Milsmann said.On the flip side, the complication can also be applied to diode organizations that emit energy, which converts electrical energy into light, which actually backs up the solar panel’s performance. This feature makes the compound an available light source for producing smart phone screens.
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“Most cellular displays contain iridium, another valuable ingredient in the performance of our computer,” said Milsmann. The next step by the team of researchers is making this area soluble in water for optimal use, such as Photodynamic therapy for patients with cancer.
The team included WVU alumnus Yu Zhang (Ph.D. Chemistry, ’19), current graduate student Dylan Leary and Professor of Chemistry Jeffrey Petersen and others.
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