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Study of Photoelectrodes of g-C3N4/WO3-x/FTO Applied in Solar Hydrogen Generation

Grant number: 23/10449-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Master
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Physical Sciences and Mathematics - Physics - Condensed Matter Physics
Principal Investigator:André Luis de Jesus Pereira
Grantee:Helen Caroline de Souza Barros
Host Institution: Divisão de Ciências Fundamentais (IEF). Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA). Ministério da Defesa (Brasil). São José dos Campos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:22/02994-2 - Green hydrogen project (ProHVer): photoelectrode study center aiming the sustainable generation of H2 fuel, AP.PNGP.PI

Abstract

One of the main challenges currently faced by humanity is the search for carbon-free energy sources, that is, clean and renewable. Among the possible alternatives, the use of molecular H2 as fuel stands out for its greater efficiency compared 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 seek to study and improve techniques that satisfy these requirements. The photoelectrochemical (PEC) production of fuel H2 through the water oxidation reaction (ROA) 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. One of the main challenges is to extend the spectral absorption range of semiconductors to the visible and near-infrared (NIR), since this region comprises more than 90% of sunlight. In this context, this project will be devoted to studying heterostructures of g-C3N4/WO3-x/FTO aiming at its application as a photoelectrode in the generation of molecular H2 via PEC processes. This heterostructure has great potential to act in spectral ranges below the UV and has recently received attention from the scientific community [1]. WO3-x/FTO films will be grown by magnetron sputtering using variable O2 fluxes during deposition. The g-C3N4 nanostructures will be synthesized via thermopolymerization and subsequently deposited on the films. Several types of characterization of the separated materials and the heterostructure will be carried out in order to obtain an overview of the sample properties and understand how they affect the production of H2 via PEC processes. Finally, the idea of this research is to contribute and boost the development of PEC systems for H2 generation that operate across the entire solar spectrum.

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