Assistant Lecturer, Covenant University
Generation of electricity in graphene thermoelectronic solar energy converter
All over the world the role of energy cannot be undermined in the creation of viable, healthy and world class economy of a country. Energy has contributed immensely to the steady growth of the developed nations like United State, Germany, United Kingdom, China and the like of others. Lack of stable electricity is one of the factors that has crippled the economy of Africa because it was not given highest priority. Some countries in Africa are in slavery because all the revenues realize from their gross domestic product are being used to service debt. So, advanced countries are now investing greatly on a new technology that would provide stable and clean electricity apart from the coal and fossil fuel sources. Therefore, there is a need to diversify our sources of energy to eco-friendly one as to as to escape from economy recession, hardship and threat of conventional means of generating electricity in our nature given habitat. Graphene is a high temperature material which can stand temperature as high as 4600 K in vacuum. Even though its work function is high (4.6 eV) the thermionic emission current density at such temperature is very high. Graphene is a wonderful material whose work function can be engineered as desired. Kwon et al reported a chemical approach to reduce work function of graphene using K2CO3, Li2CO3, Rb2CO3, Cs2CO3. The work functions are reported to be 3.7 eV, 3.8 eV, 3.5 eV and 3.4 eV. Even though they did not report the high temperature tolerance of such alkali metal carbonate doped graphene, their works open a great promise for use of pure graphene and doped graphene as emitter (cathode) and collector (anode) in a solar thermionic energy converter. My work discusses the dynamics of solar energy conversion to electrical energy using thermionic energy converter with graphene as emitter and collector. I considered parabolic mirror concentrator to focus solar energy onto the emitter to achieve temperature around 4300 K. I, modelled Richardson-Dushman equation to achieve the theoretical calculations and the modelling show that efficiency as high as 55% can easily be achieved if space-charge problem can be reduced and the collector can be cooled to certain proper temperature. This type solar energy conversion would reduce the dependence on silicon solar panel and has great potential for future applications.
Abstract: High-performance and novel graphene-based electrothermal films are fabricated through a simple yet versatile solution process. Their electrothermal performances are studied in terms of applied voltage, heating rate, and input power density. The electrothermal films annealed at high temperature show high transmittance and display good heating performance. For example, the graphene-based film annealed at 800 °C, which shows transmittance of over 80% at 550 nm, can reach a saturated temperature of up to 42 °C when 60 V is applied for 2 min. Graphene-based films annealed at 900 and 1000 °C can exhibit high steady-state temperatures of 150 and 206 °C under an applied voltage of 60 V with a maximum heating rate of over 7 °C s(-1) . For flexible heating films patterned on polyimide, a steady-state temperature of 72 °C could be reached in less than 10 s with a maximum heating rate exceeding 16 °C s(-1) at 60 V. These excellent results, combined with the high chemical stability and mechanical flexibility of graphene, indicate that graphene-based electrothermal elements hold great promise for many practical applications, such as defrosting and antifogging devices.
Pub.: 13 Oct '11, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Transparent conductive electrodes with high surface conductivity, high transmittance in the visible wavelength range, and mechanical compliance are one of the major challenges in the fabrication of stretchable optoelectronic devices. We report the preparation of a transparent conductive electrode (TCE) based on a silver nanowire (AgNW) percolation network modified with graphene oxide (GO). The monatomic thickness, mechanical flexibility, and strong bonding with AgNWs enable the GO sheets to wrap around and solder the AgNW junctions and thus dramatically reduce the inter-nanowire contact resistance without heat treatment or high force pressing. The GO-soldered AgNW network has a figure-of-merit sheet resistance of 14 ohm/sq with 88% transmittance at 550 nm. Its storage stability is improved compared to a conventional high-temperature annealed AgNW network. The GO-soldered AgNW network on polyethylene terephthalate films was processed from solutions using a drawdown machine at room temperature. When bent to 4 mm radius, its sheet resistance was increased by only 2-3% after 12,000 bending cycles. GO solder can also improve the stretchability of the AgNW network. Composite TCE fabricated by inlaying a GO-soldered AgNW network in the surface layer of polyurethane acrylate films is stretchable, by greater than 100% linear strain without losing electrical conductivity. Fully stretchable white polymer light-emitting diodes (PLEDs) were fabricated for the first time, employing the stretchable TCE as both the anode and cathode. The PLED can survive after 100 stretching cycles between 0 and 40% strain and can be stretched up to 130% linear strain at room temperature.
Pub.: 30 Jan '14, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: The current-phase relation (CPR) of a Josephson junction (JJ) determines how the supercurrent evolves with the superconducting phase difference across the junction. Knowledge of the CPR is essential in order to understand the response of a JJ to various external parameters. Despite the rising interest in ultraclean encapsulated graphene JJs, the CPR of such junctions remains unknown. Here, we use a fully gate-tunable graphene superconducting quantum intereference device (SQUID) to determine the CPR of ballistic graphene JJs. Each of the two JJs in the SQUID is made with graphene encapsulated in hexagonal boron nitride. By independently controlling the critical current of the JJs, we can operate the SQUID either in a symmetric or asymmetric configuration. The highly asymmetric SQUID allows us to phase-bias one of the JJs and thereby directly obtain its CPR. The CPR is found to be skewed, deviating significantly from a sinusoidal form. The skewness can be tuned with the gate voltage and oscillates in antiphase with Fabry-Pérot resistance oscillations of the ballistic graphene cavity. We compare our experiments with tight-binding calculations that include realistic graphene–superconductor interfaces and find a good qualitative agreement.
Pub.: 05 May '17, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: We report on efficient carrier-to-exciton conversion and planer electroluminescence from tunnel diodes based on a metal-insulator-semiconductor van der Waals heterostack consisting of few-layer graphene (FLG), hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), and monolayer tungsten disulfide (WS2). These devices exhibit excitonic electroluminescence with extremely low threshold current density of a few pA∙μm-2, which is several orders of magnitude lower compared to the previously reported values for the best planar EL devices. Using a reference dye, we estimate the lower bound of EL quantum efficiency to be ~ 1 % at low current density limit, which is of the same order of magnitude as photoluminescence quantum yield at the equivalent excitation rate. Our observations indicate that the efficiency of our devises is not limited by carrier-to-exciton conversion efficiency but by the inherent exciton-to-photon yield of the material. The device characteristics indicate that the light emission is triggered by injection of hot minority carriers (holes) to n-doped WS2 by Fowler-Nordheim tunneling and that hBN serves as an efficient hole-transport and electron-blocking layer. Our findings offer insight into the intelligent design of van der Waals heterostructures and avenues for realizing efficient excitonic devices.
Pub.: 22 Jul '17, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: SnO2 nanoparticles display a pseudo-negative-photoconductivity (PsdNPC) effect, which shows that their resistance increases under light irradiation via a heating effect. The PsdNPC originates from intensive electron scattering of the nanoamorphous surface state of the SnO2 nanoparticles, resulting in a small inner current and a large absorption of moisture, leading to a large surface current. Graphene as the inner skeleton can shorten the response and recovery times.
Pub.: 09 May '15, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Microelectromechanical systems, which can be moved or rotated with nanometre precision, already find applications in such fields as radio-frequency electronics, micro-attenuators, sensors and many others. Especially interesting are those which allow fine control over the motion on the atomic scale because of self-alignment mechanisms and forces acting on the atomic level. Such machines can produce well-controlled movements as a reaction to small changes of the external parameters. Here we demonstrate that, for the system of graphene on hexagonal boron nitride, the interplay between the van der Waals and elastic energies results in graphene mechanically self-rotating towards the hexagonal boron nitride crystallographic directions. Such rotation is macroscopic (for graphene flakes of tens of micrometres the tangential movement can be on hundreds of nanometres) and can be used for reproducible manufacturing of aligned van der Waals heterostructures.
Pub.: 10 Mar '16, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Atomic layers of two-dimensional (2D) materials have recently been the focus of extensive research. This follows from the footsteps of graphene, which has shown great potential for ultrathin optoelectronic devices. In this paper, we present a comprehensive study on the synthesis, characterization, and thin film photodetector application of atomic layers of InSe. Correlation between resonance Raman spectroscopy and photoconductivity measurements allows us to systematically track the evolution of the electronic band structure of 2D InSe as its thickness approaches few atomic layers. Analysis of photoconductivity spectra suggests that few-layered InSe has an indirect band gap of 1.4 eV, which is 200 meV higher than bulk InSe due to the suppressed interlayer electron orbital coupling. Temperature-dependent photocurrent measurements reveal that the suppressed interlayer interaction also results in more localized pz-like orbitals, and these orbitals couple strongly with the in-plane E' and E″ phonons. Finally, we measured a strong photoresponse of 34.7 mA/W and fast response time of 488 μs for a few layered InSe, suggesting that it is a good material for thin film optoelectronic applications.
Pub.: 08 Jan '14, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Quantum point contacts are cornerstones of mesoscopic physics and central building blocks for quantum electronics. Although the Fermi wavelength in high-quality bulk graphene can be tuned up to hundreds of nanometres, the observation of quantum confinement of Dirac electrons in nanostructured graphene has proven surprisingly challenging. Here we show ballistic transport and quantized conductance of size-confined Dirac fermions in lithographically defined graphene constrictions. At high carrier densities, the observed conductance agrees excellently with the Landauer theory of ballistic transport without any adjustable parameter. Experimental data and simulations for the evolution of the conductance with magnetic field unambiguously confirm the identification of size quantization in the constriction. Close to the charge neutrality point, bias voltage spectroscopy reveals a renormalized Fermi velocity of ~1.5 × 106 m s−1 in our constrictions. Moreover, at low carrier density transport measurements allow probing the density of localized states at edges, thus offering a unique handle on edge physics in graphene devices.
Pub.: 20 May '16, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Finding alternative optoelectronic mechanisms that overcome the limitations of conventional semiconductor devices is paramount for detecting and harvesting low-energy photons. A highly promising approach is to drive a current from the thermal energy added to the free-electron bath as a result of light absorption. Successful implementation of this strategy requires a broadband absorber where carriers interact among themselves more strongly than with phonons, as well as energy-selective contacts to extract the excess electronic heat. Here we show that graphene-WSe2-graphene heterostructure devices offer this possibility through the photo-thermionic effect: the absorbed photon energy in graphene is efficiently transferred to the electron bath leading to a thermalized hot carrier distribution. Carriers with energy higher than the Schottky barrier between graphene and WSe2 can be emitted over the barrier, thus creating photocurrent. We experimentally demonstrate that the photo-thermionic effect enables detection of sub-bandgap photons, while being size-scalable, electrically tunable, broadband and ultrafast.
Pub.: 14 Jul '16, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Electron emission from individual graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) driven by an internal electric field was studied for the first time inside a high resolution transmission electron microscope equipped with a state-of-art scanning tunneling microscope sample holder with independent twin probes. Electrons were driven out from individual GNRs under an internal driving voltage of less than 3 V with an emission current increasing exponentially with the driving voltage. The emission characteristics were analyzed by taking into account monatomic thickness of GNRs. While deviating from the two-dimensional Richardson equation for thermionic emission, they were well described by the recently proposed by us phonon-assisted electron emission model. Different from widely studied field electron emission from graphene edges, electrons were found to be emitted perpendicularly to the atomic graphene surfaces with an emission density as high as 12.7 A/cm(2). The internally driven electron emission is expected to be less sensitive to the microstructures of an emitter as compared to field emission. The low driving voltage, high emission density, and internal field driving character make the regarded electron emission highly promising for electron source applications.
Pub.: 29 Nov '11, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Multifunctional nanoporous graphene is realized as a heat generator to convert solar illumination into high-energy steam. The novel 3D nanoporous graphene demonstrates a highly energy-effective steam generation with an energy conversation of 80%.
Pub.: 17 Jun '15, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: Point sources exhibit low threshold electron emission due to local field enhancement at the tip. The development and implementation of tip emitters have been hampered by the need to position them sufficiently apart to achieve field enhancement, limiting the number of emission sites and therefore the overall current. Here we report low threshold field (< 0.1 V/μm) emission of multiple electron beams from atomically thin edges of reduced graphene oxide (rGO). Field emission microscopy measurements show evidence for interference from emission sites that are separated by a few nanometers, suggesting that the emitted electron beams are coherent. On the basis of our high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and simulation results, field emission from the rGO edge is attributed to a stable and unique aggregation of oxygen groups in the form of cyclic edge ethers. Such closely spaced electron beams from rGO offer prospects for novel applications and understanding the physics of linear electron sources.
Pub.: 31 May '11, Pinned: 31 Jul '17
Abstract: The ability to efficiently utilize solar thermal energy to enable liquid-to-vapor phase transition has great technological implications for a wide variety of applications such as water treatment and chemical fractionation. Here, we demonstrate that functionalizing graphene using hydrophilic groups can greatly enhance the solar thermal steam generation efficiency. Our results show that specially functionalized graphene can improve the overall solar-to-vapor efficiency from 38% to 48% at one sun conditions compared to chemically reduced graphene oxide. Our experiments show that such an improvement is a surface effect mainly attributed to the more hydrophilic feature of functionalized graphene, which influences the water meniscus profile at the vapor-liquid interface due to capillary effect. This will lead to thinner water films close to the three-phase contact line, where the water surface temperature is higher since the resistance of thinner water film is smaller, leading to more efficient evaporation. This strategy of functionalizing graphene to make it more hydrophilic can be potentially integrated with the existing macroscopic heat isolation strategies to further improve the overall solar-to-vapor conversion efficiency.
Pub.: 17 May '17, Pinned: 31 Jul '17