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Multi-user equipment approved in grant 2022/02994-2: FluoroMax Plus C


One of the main challenges currently faced by humanity is the search for carbon-free, i.e., clean and renewable energy sources. Among the possible alternatives, the use of molecular H2 as fuel stands out for its greater efficiency respect to petroleum derivatives and, mainly, for being ecologically sustainable. However, since the H2 generation process also needs to be clean, efficient and economically viable, currently many research groups around the world focus in study and improve techniques that satisfy these requirements. The photoelectrochemical (PEC) production of fuel H2 through the water oxidation reaction (WOR) process using sunlight is one of the methods with the greatest potential for practical applications. However, some challenges still need to be overcome in order for this technology to be applied on a large scale. Among these, the search for new semiconductor materials to be used as photoelectrodes in PEC cells stands out. In this context, the Green Hydrogen Project (ProHVer) proposes the creation of a research line in the Plasmas and Processes Laboratory (LPP-ITA) that will be dedicated to the study of semiconductor thin films applied as a photoelectrode in PEC cells. ProHVer will focus on performing a systematic analysis of the properties of different types of materials and understanding how they affect the production of H2 via PEC processes. This understanding will allow the optimization of both the films growth parameters and the architecture of the PEC cells. The interpretation of the experimental results will be carried out on the light of theoretical calculations ab initio, allowing a deeper understanding of the properties of the materials that will be studied. Another project guideline will be to work with relatively low cost materials and techniques, in addition to testing simpler PEC cell architectures, allowing their reproducibility and scalability. In view of this premise, as a starting point, photoelectrodes based on WO3-x, MoO3-x, TiO2, alfa-Fe2O3 and Cu2O deposited mainly by magnetron sputtering will be studied. The studies of these materials will be directed to the understanding of the real role of co-catalysts in the PEC process and methodologies to extend the absorption range of the photoelectrodes to energies below the UV, allowing a reduction in the production costs of the photoelectrodes, concomitant with a significant increase in the efficiency of H2 generation. Finally, the implementation of this line of research at the LPP-ITA will be essential for the training of new researchers through scientific initiation, master's, PhD. and postdoctoral projects. Furthermore, as the project involves several researchers, both Brazilian and foreign, is expected that the creation of this new research line will help to consolidate the collaboration between the ITA research groups with groups from other universities. (AU)

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