Scientific Papers in SCI


Title: Dye sensitized solar cells as optically random photovoltaic media
Author(s): Galvez, FE; Barnes, PRF; Halme, J; Miguez, H
Source: Energy & Environmental Science, 6 (2014) 1260-1266

abstract | fulltext

In order to enhance optical absorption, light trapping by multiple scattering is commonly achieved in dye sensitized solar cells by adding particles of a different sort. Herein we propose a theoretical method to find the structural parameters (particle number density and size) that optimize the conversion efficiency of electrodes of different thicknesses containing spherical inclusions of diverse composition. Our work provides a theoretical framework in which the response of solar cells containing diffuse scattering particles can be rationalized. Optical simulations are performed by combining a Monte Carlo approach with Mie theory, in which the angular distribution of scattered light is accounted for. Several types of scattering centers, such as anatase, gold and silver particles, as well as cavities, are considered and their effect compared. Estimates of photovoltaic performance, insight into the physical mechanisms responsible for the observed enhancements, and guidelines to improve the cell design are provided. We discuss the results in terms of light transport in weakly disordered optical media and find that the observed variations between the optimum scattering configurations attained for different electrode thicknesses can be understood as the result of the randomization of the light propagation direction at different depths within the active layer. A primary conclusion of our study is that photovoltaic performance is optimised when the scattering properties of the film are adjusted so that the distance over which incident photons are randomized is comparable to the thickness of the film. This simple relationship could also be used as a design rule to attain the optimum optical design in other photovoltaic materials.

February, 2014 | DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42587H

Title: Production of hydrogen by water photo-splitting over commercial and synthesised Au/TiO2 catalysts
Author(s): Mendez, JAO; Lopez, CR; Melian, EP; Diaz, OG; Rodriguez, JMD; Hevia, DF; Macias, M
Source: Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 147 (2014) 439-452

abstract | fulltext

H2 production from methanol/water photo-splitting was compared using various commercial photocatalysts (Evonik P25 (P25), Hombikat UV-100 (HB) and Kronos vlp7000 (KR)) and others synthesised with a sol–gel-hydrothermal (HT) process and a sol–gel method followed by calcination (SG400 and SG750). All photocatalysts had been surface modified with Au at different concentrations, from 0.2 to 6.0 wt.%, using the photodeposition method. A complete characterisation study of the different photocatalysts was performed (BET, XRD, TEM, SEM-EDX, FTIR, UV–vis Reflectance Diffuse Spectra and aggregate size). The experiments were conducted for 3.5 h using 1 g L−1 of photocatalyst with methanol (25 vol.%) as sacrificial agent. In addition to H2 generation, production of the main intermediates, formaldehyde and formic acid, and of CO2 was also evaluated. The commercial photocatalyst KR at 0.8 wt.% Au had the highest H2 production of all the photocatalysts studied with 1542.9 μmol h−1. Of the photocatalysts synthesised by our group, SG750 at Au loading of 2.0 wt.% gave the highest H2 production of 723.1 μmol h−1. The SG750 photocatalyst at Au loading of 2.0 wt.% also had the highest H2 production yield per unit of surface area at 45.5 μmol g h−1 m−2.

April, 2014 | DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2013.09.029

Title: Improved H2 production of Pt-TiO2/g-C3N4-MnOx composites by an efficient handling of photogenerated charge pairs
Author(s): Obregon, S; Colon, G
Source: Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 144 (2014) 775-782

abstract | fulltext

Pt-TiO2/g-C3N4-MnOx hybrid structures are synthesized by means of a simple impregnation method of Pt-TiO2 and g-C3N4-MnOx. From the wide structural and surface characterization we have stated that TiO2/g-C3N4 composites are formed by an effective covering of g-C3N4 by TiO2. The modification of composite by Pt and/or MnOx leads to improved photoactivities for phenol degradation reaction. Moreover, enhanced photoactivities have been obtained for composites systems for H2 evolution reaction. The notably photocatalytic performance obtained was related with the efficient separation of charge pairs in this hybrid heterostructure.

January, 2014 | DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2013.07.034

Title: Effect of gold on a NiLaO3 perovskite catalyst for methane steam reforming
Author(s): Palma, S; Bobadilla, LF; Corrales, A; Ivanova, S; Romero-Sarria, F; Centeno, MA; Odriozola, JA
Source: Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 144 (2014) 846-854

abstract | fulltext

The effect of gold addition to a supported Ni SRM catalyst has been studied in this work in order to determine the influence of gold on both the amount and type of carbon species formed during the reaction. The structure of the support, a mixed La–Al perovskite, determines the catalyst reducibility and Ni particle size. Gold addition affects the metal particle size increasing metal dispersion on increasing the gold content. Therefore, although gold blocks step Ni sites, the more active sites for Csingle bondH activation, and increases electron density on nickel, the higher dispersion results in an apparently higher activity upon gold addition. Moreover, gold addition increases the catalyst stability by decreasing the rate of growth of carbon nanotubes.

January, 2014 | DOI: 10.1016/j.apcatb.2013.07.055

Title: Low Temperature Production of Formaldehyde from Carbon Dioxide and Ethane by Plasma-Assisted Catalysis in a Ferroelectrically Moderated Dielectric Barrier Discharge Reactor
Author(s): Gomez-Ramirez, A; Rico, VJ; Cotrino, J; Gonzalez-Elipe, A; Lambert, RM
Source: ACS Catalysis, 4 (2014) 402-408

abstract | fulltext

Plasma-assisted catalysis of the reaction between CO2 and C2H6 in a single-pass, ferroelectrically moderated dielectric barrier discharge reactor has been studied at near ambient temperature as a function of physicochemical and electrical reaction variables. The presence of small amounts of a vanadia/alumina catalyst dispersed on the BaTiO3 ferroelectric markedly enhanced the production of formaldehyde, the focus of this work. A maximum HCOH selectivity of 11.4% (defined with respect to the number of ethane carbon atoms consumed) at 100% ethane conversion was achieved, the other products being CO, H2O, H2, CH4 and a small amount of C3H8. N2O was also an effective partial oxidant (HCOH selectivity 8.9%) whereas use of O2 led to complete combustion, behavior that may be rationalized in terms of the electron impact excitation cross sections of the three oxidants. Control experiments with the coproducts CH4 and C3H8 showed that these species were not intermediates in HCOH formation from C2H6. Analysis of reactor performance as a function of discharge characteristics revealed that formaldehyde formation was strongly favored at low frequencies where the zero-current fraction of the duty cycle was greatest, the implication being that plasma processes also acted to destroy previously formed products. A tentative reaction mechanism is proposed that accounts for the broad features of formaldehyde production.

February, 2014 | DOI: 10.1021/cs4008528

Title: Interaction of Hydrated Cations with Mica-n (n = 2, 3 and 4) Surface
Author(s): Pavon, E; Castro, MA; Cota, A; Osuna, FJ; Pazos, MC; Alba, MD
Source: Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 118 (2014) 2115-2121

abstract | fulltext

High charged swelling micas, with layer charge between 2 and 4, have been found to readily swell with water, and complete cation exchange (CEC) can be achieved. Because of their high CEC, applications like radioactive cation fixation or removal of heavy metal cations from wastewater were proposed. Their applicability can be controlled by the location of the interlayer cation in a confined space with a high electric field. In synthetic brittle micas, the interlayer cation has a low water coordination number; therefore, their coordination sphere would be completed by the basal oxygen of the tetrahedral layer as inner-sphere complexes (ISC). However, no direct evidence of these complexes formation in brittle micas has been reported yet. In this contribution, we mainly focus on the understanding the mechanisms that provoke the formation of ISC in high charge swelling micas, Mica-n. A whole series of cations (X) were used to explore the influence of the charge and size of the interlayer cation. Three brittle swelling micas, Mica-n (n = 4, 3 and 2), were selected in order to analyze the influence of the layer charge in the formation of ISC. The contribution of the ISC has been analyzed thorough the evolution of the 060 reflection and the changes in the short-range order of the tetrahedral cations will be followed 29Si and 27Al MAS NMR. The results showed that ISC was favored in X-Mica-4 and that provoked a high distortion angle between the Si–Al tetrahedra. When the content of aluminum decreases, the electrostatic forces between the layers are relaxed, and the hydrated cations did not interact so strongly with the tetrahedral sheet, having the opportunity to complete their hydration sphere.

January, 2014 | DOI: 10.1021/jp4110695

Title: Nanosilica supported CaO: A regenerable and mechanically hard CO2 sorbent at Ca-looping conditions
Author(s): Sanchez-Jimenez, PE; Perez-Maqueda, LA; Valverde, JM
Source: Applied Energy, 118 (2014) 92-99

abstract | fulltext

This work presents a CO2 sorbent that may be synthesized from low-cost and widely available materials following a simple method basically consisting of impregnation of a nanostructured silica support with a saturated solution of calcium nitrate. In a first impregnation stage, the use of a stoichiometric CaO/SiO2 ratio serves to produce a calcium silicate matrix after calcination. This calcium silicate matrix acts as a thermally stable and mechanically hard support for CaO deposited on it by further impregnation. The CaO-impregnated sorbent exhibits a stable CaO conversion at Ca-looping conditions whose value depends on the CaO wt% deposited on the calcium silicate matrix, which can be increased by successive reimpregnations. A 10 wt% CaO impregnated sorbent reaches a stable conversion above 0.6 whereas the stable conversion of a 30 wt% CaO impregnated sorbent is around 0.3, which is much larger than the residual conversion of CaO derived from natural limestone (between 0.07 and 0.08). Moreover, particle size distribution measurements of samples predispersed in a liquid and subjected to high energy ultrasonic waves indicate that the CaO-impregnated sorbent has a relatively high mechanical strength as compared to limestone derived CaO.

April, 2014 | DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2013.12.024

Title: New Bio-Ceramization Processes Applied to Vegetable Hierarchical Structures for Bone Regeneration: An Experimental Model in Sheep
Author(s): Filardo, G; Kon, E; Tampieri, A; Cabezas-Rodriguez, R; Di Martino, A; Fini, M; Giavaresi, G; Lelli, M; Martinez-Fernandez, J; Martini, L; Ramirez-Rico, J; Salamanna, F; Sandri, M; Sprio, S; Marcacci, M
Source: Tissue Engineering Part A, 20 (2014) 763-773

abstract | fulltext

Bone loss is still a major problem in orthopedics. The purpose of this experimental study is to evaluate the safety and regenerative potential of a new scaffold based on a bio-ceramization process for bone regeneration in long diaphyseal defects in a sheep model. The scaffold was obtained by transformation of wood pieces into porous biomorphic silicon carbide (BioSiC®). The process enabled the maintenance of the original wood microstructure, thus exhibiting hierarchically organized porosity and high mechanical strength. To improve cell adhesion and osseointegration, the external surface of the hollow cylinder was made more bioactive by electrodeposition of a uniform layer of collagen fibers that were mineralized with biomimetic hydroxyapatite, whereas the internal part was filled with a bio-hybrid HA/collagen composite. The final scaffold was then implanted in the metatarsus of 15 crossbred (Merinos-Sarda) adult sheep, divided into 3 groups: scaffold alone, scaffold with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) augmentation, and scaffold with bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) added during implantation. Radiological analysis was performed at 4, 8, 12 weeks, and 4 months, when animals were sacrificed for the final radiological, histological, and histomorphometric evaluation. In all tested treatments, these analyses highlighted the presence of newly formed bone at the bone scaffolds' interface. Although a lack of substantial effect of PRP was demonstrated, the scaffold+BMSC augmentation showed the highest value of bone-to-implant contact and new bone growth inside the scaffold. The findings of this study suggest the potential of bio-ceramization processes applied to vegetable hierarchical structures for the production of wood-derived bone scaffolds, and document a suitable augmentation procedure in enhancing bone regeneration, particularly when combined with BMSCs.

February, 2014 | DOI: 10.1089/ten.tea.2013.0108

Title: Synthesis and luminescence of uniform europium-doped bismuth fluoride and bismuth oxyfluoride particles with different morphologies
Author(s): A. Escudero; E. Moretti; M. Ocaña
Source: CrysEngComm, 16 (2014) 3274-3283

abstract | fulltext

Facile synthesis routes have been developed for the preparation of uniform cubic bismuth fluoride and bismuth oxyfluoride particles. The synthesis methods are based on homogeneous precipitation reactions at 120 °C in solutions of bismuth nitrate and sodium tetrafluoroborate precursors in polyol-based solvents. Both the nature of the solvent and the heating modes (conventional or microwave-assisted heating) have a remarkable effect on the morphology and crystallinity of the resulting particles. Thus, polycrystalline spheres of α-BiF3 with a mean diameter ranging from 1.2 to 2 μm could be obtained by heating solutions with the appropriate reagent concentrations in a mixture of ethylene glycol and glycerol (1 : 1 by volume) using a conventional oven, whereas octahedral single crystals of α-BiOyF3−2y with mean edges ranging from 250 nm to 920 nm precipitated when using a diethylene glycol–water mixture (8 : 2 in volume) as solvent and a microwave reactor for heating. To explain these different morphological and structural features, the mechanism of formation of such particles was investigated. Both kinds of particles were also doped with Eu3+, and both the morphological and luminescence properties of the resulting materials were evaluated. It was found that the luminescence intensity of the europium-doped α-BiOyF3−2y nanoparticles was higher than that of the europium-doped α-BiF3 sub-micrometric spheres, which was associated with the higher crystallinity of the former. Moreover, the presence of oxygen in the europium-doped α-BiOyF3−2y samples permits the excitation of the europium cations through an Eu–O energy transfer process, which results in a much higher luminescence intensity with respect to that corresponding to the direct excitation of the europium cations. Finally, the effect of the amount of dopant on the luminescence properties of the phosphors was also evaluated.

April, 2014 | DOI: 10.1039/C3CE42462F

Title: Panchromatic porous specular back reflectors for efficient transparent dye solar cells
Author(s): Lopez-Lopez, C; Colodrero, S; Miguez, H
Source: Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 16 (2014) 663-668

abstract | fulltext

A panchromatic specular reflector based dye solar cell is presented herein. Photovoltaic performance of this novel design is compared to that of cells in which standard diffuse scattering layers are integrated. The capability of the proposed multilayer structures to both emulate the broad band reflection of diffuse scattering layers of standard thickness (around 5 microns) and give rise to similarly high light harvesting and power conversion efficiencies, yet preserving the transparency of the device, is demonstrated. Such white light reflectors are comprised of stacks of different porous optical multilayers, each one displaying a strong reflection in a complementary spectral range, and are designed to leave transmittance unaltered in a narrow red-frequency range in which the sensitized electrode shows negligible absorption, thus allowing us to see through the cell. The reflectance bandwidth achieved is three times as broad as the largest bandwidth previously achieved using any photonic structure integrated into a dye solar cell.

January, 2014 | DOI: 10.1039/C3CP53939C

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