Cottrill, Anton L.; Liu, Albert Tianxiang; Kunai, Yuichiro; Koman, Volodymyr B.; Kaplan, Amir; Mahajan, Sayalee G.; Liu, Pingwei; Toland, Aubrey R.; Strano, Michael S.(Nature Communications, Springer Nature, 2018-02-14)[Article]
Materials science has made progress in maximizing or minimizing the thermal conductivity of materials; however, the thermal effusivity—related to the product of conductivity and capacity—has received limited attention, despite its importance in the coupling of thermal energy to the environment. Herein, we design materials that maximize the thermal effusivity by impregnating copper and nickel foams with conformal, chemical-vapor-deposited graphene and octadecane as a phase change material. These materials are ideal for ambient energy harvesting in the form of what we call thermal resonators to generate persistent electrical power from thermal fluctuations over large ranges of frequencies. Theory and experiment demonstrate that the harvestable power for these devices is proportional to the thermal effusivity of the dominant thermal mass. To illustrate, we measure persistent energy harvesting from diurnal frequencies, extracting as high as 350 mV and 1.3 mW from approximately 10 °C diurnal temperature differences.
Efficient wide-bandgap perovskite solar cells (PSCs) enable high-efficiency tandem photovoltaics when combined with crystalline silicon and other low-bandgap absorbers. However, wide-bandgap PSCs today exhibit performance far inferior to that of sub-1.6-eV bandgap PSCs due to their tendency to form a high density of deep traps. Here, we show that healing the deep traps in wide-bandgap perovskites—in effect, increasing the defect tolerance via cation engineering—enables further performance improvements in PSCs. We achieve a stabilized power conversion efficiency of 20.7% for 1.65-eV bandgap PSCs by incorporating dipolar cations, with a high open-circuit voltage of 1.22 V and a fill factor exceeding 80%. We also obtain a stabilized efficiency of 19.1% for 1.74-eV bandgap PSCs with a high open-circuit voltage of 1.25 V. From density functional theory calculations, we find that the presence and reorientation of the dipolar cation in mixed cation–halide perovskites heals the defects that introduce deep trap states.
Mader, Sophie L.; Bräuer, Alois; Groll, Michael; Kaila, Ville R. I.(Nature Communications, Springer Nature, 2018-03-21)[Article]
The recently discovered FeII/α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase AsqJ from Aspergillus nidulans stereoselectively catalyzes a multistep synthesis of quinolone alkaloids, natural products with significant biomedical applications. To probe molecular mechanisms of this elusive catalytic process, we combine here multi-scale quantum and classical molecular simulations with X-ray crystallography, and in vitro biochemical activity studies. We discover that methylation of the substrate is essential for the activity of AsqJ, establishing molecular strain that fine-tunes π-stacking interactions within the active site. To rationally engineer AsqJ for modified substrates, we amplify dispersive interactions within the active site. We demonstrate that the engineered enzyme has a drastically enhanced catalytic activity for non-methylated surrogates, confirming our computational data and resolved high-resolution X-ray structures at 1.55 Å resolution. Our combined findings provide crucial mechanistic understanding of the function of AsqJ and showcase how combination of computational and experimental data enables to rationally engineer enzymes.
Zhao, Yicheng; Tan, Hairen; Yuan, Haifeng; Yang, Zhenyu; Fan, James Z.; Kim, Junghwan; Voznyy, Oleksandr; Gong, Xiwen; Quan, Li Na; Tan, Chih Shan; Hofkens, Johan; Yu, Dapeng; Zhao, Qing; Sargent, Edward H.(Nature Communications, Springer Nature, 2018-04-23)[Article]
Formamidinium-lead-iodide (FAPbI3)-based perovskites with bandgap below 1.55 eV are of interest for photovoltaics in view of their close-to-ideal bandgap. Record-performance FAPbI3-based solar cells have relied on fabrication via the sequential-deposition method; however, these devices exhibit unstable output under illumination due to the difficulty of incorporating cesium cations (stabilizer) in sequentially deposited films. Here we devise a perovskite seeding method that efficiently incorporates cesium and beneficially modulates perovskite crystallization. First, perovskite seed crystals are embedded in the PbI2 film. The perovskite seeds serve as cesium sources and act as nuclei to facilitate crystallization during the formation of perovskite. Perovskite films with perovskite seeding growth exhibit a lowered trap density, and the resulting planar solar cells achieve stabilized efficiency of 21.5% with a high open-circuit voltage of 1.13 V and a fill factor that exceeds 80%. The Cs-containing FAPbI3-based devices show a striking improvement in operational stability and retain 60% of their initial efficiency after 140 h operation under one sun illumination.
Menke, S. Matthew; Cheminal, Alexandre; Conaghan, Patrick; Ran, Niva A.; Greehnam, Neil C.; Bazan, Guillermo C.; Nguyen, Thuc-Quyen; Rao, Akshay; Friend, Richard H.(Nature Communications, Springer Nature, 2018-01-18)[Article]
Donor–acceptor organic solar cells often show low open-circuit voltages (VOC) relative to their optical energy gap (Eg) that limit power conversion efficiencies to ~12%. This energy loss is partly attributed to the offset between Eg and that of intermolecular charge transfer (CT) states at the donor–acceptor interface. Here we study charge generation occurring in PIPCP:PC61BM, a system with a very low driving energy for initial charge separation (Eg−ECT ~ 50 meV) and a high internal quantum efficiency (ηIQE ~ 80%). We track the strength of the electric field generated between the separating electron-hole pair by following the transient electroabsorption optical response, and find that while localised CT states are formed rapidly (<100 fs) after photoexcitation, free charges are not generated until 5 ps after photogeneration. In PIPCP:PC61BM, electronic disorder is low (Urbach energy <27 meV) and we consider that free charge separation is able to outcompete trap-assisted non-radiative recombination of the CT state.
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