(503a) Study of Bio-Inspired Nanostructured Materials for Solar Energy Conversion

Nuraje, N., Texas Tech University
Moniruddin, M., North carolina A&T State University
Solar energy conversion has been drawn a great interest in our scientific community due to the demand for renewable energy. The necessary steps to improve solar energy conversion, including photovoltaics and water splitting, are solar energy harnessing, charge separations, and catalytic reactions. Nature always inspires us to mimic natural photosynthetic systems such as, Purple photosynthetic bacteria, revealing a new light harvesting protein with efficient channels for energy and electron transport.

 This study focuses on developing artificial photosynthetic systems for understanding the fundamentals of energy transfer, and electron transport in both water splitting, and photovoltaic devices with uniquely designed nanostructures. In the artificial design systems, dye-sensitized solar cell systems were a base for investigating the above fundamental problems. For the efficiency of solar energy harnessing and better electron transport systems, uniquely assembled nanostructures of ZnO , TiO2 , and an acceptor/donor energy system were fabricated using electrochemical approaches. The ZnO nanostructures including nanorods, nanosheets and nanowries were then decorated with small band gap semiconductors including, Fe2O3, CuO and Cu2O by spin coating techniques. These structures were then investigated for electron transfer using characterization methods such as: SEM, TEM, XRD, and electrochemical potentiostat methods. Spectroscopic methods such as: UV-vis spectrometer, and time-resolved photoluminscence spectroscopy are being investigated now. This fundamental study will lead us to a better design for artificial photosystems.