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Simultaneous adsorption and photocatalytic behavior of hybrid mesoporous ZnS-SiO2 nanocomposite

Emrooz, HBM; Gotor, FJ
Materials Research Express, 4 (2017) art. 085037


Mesoporous ZnS-SiO2 nanocomposite was synthesized with a facile process. At first a large pore volume (1.86 cm(3).g(-1)), moderate pore size (about 12.8 nm) and moderate surface area (586 m(2).g(-1)) mesoporous SiO2 was synthesized in an acidic PH using cationic surfactant. ZnS nanoparticles were infiltrated in the porosities of the synthesized SiO2, with a room temperature post grafting method. The synthesized particles have been characterized with transmission electron microscopy (TEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Brunauer-Emmett-Teller (BET), furrier transformation infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy (DRS). Results confirm the mesoporous characteristics of ZnS-SiO2 nanocomposite with specific surface area as high as 248 m(2).g(-1), pore volume of 0.89 cm(3).g(-1) and average pore diameter of about 14.4 nm. Simultaneous adsorption-photocatalytic behavior of this hybrid mesoporous nanocomposite for degradation of methylene blue (MB) was investigated. The efficiency of this material was compared with that of mesoporous SiO2 and also lone ZnS nanoparticles. Results showed that by using ultraviolet irradiation, ZnS-SiO2 can degrade greater than 85% of MB only after 3 min. The case for lone ZnS is less than 5% after 30 min. Degradation mechanism of MB using ZnS-SiO2 and ultraviolet radiation was explained with simultaneous adsorption and photocatalytic phenomena. Ultraviolet irradiation can degrade adsorbed MB of mesoporous SiO2 which can prevent it from saturation.

Agosto, 2017 | DOI: 10.1088/2053-1591/aa85cf

Cobalt Carbide Identified as Catalytic Site for the Dehydrogenation of Ethanol to Acetaldehyde

A. Rodríguez-Gómez; J.P. Holgado; A. Caballero
ACS Catalysis, 7 (2017) 5243-5247


Two cobalt catalysts, Co/SBA-15 and Co/SiO2, have been studied in steam reforming of ethanol (SRE). Besides the steam reforming products, ethoxide dehydrogenation to acetaldehyde is observed as one of the main reactions. Although by hydrogen treatment cobalt is reduced to the metallic state, under SRE conditions, a phase appears that has been identified as cobalt carbide and correlates with acetaldehyde production. These findings provide insights about the catalytic sites, for SRE, in cobalt catalysts. Comparison with previous results shows that these conclusions are not translatable to other cobalt catalysts, stressing the importance of the support on the catalytic behavior of cobalt.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.7b01348

Plasma assisted deposition of single and multistacked TiO2 hierarchical nanotube photoanodes

Filippin, AN; Sanchez-Valencia, JR; Idigoras, J; Rojas, TC; Barranco, A; Anta, JA; Borras, A
Nanoscale, 9 (2017) 8133-8141


We present herein an evolved methodology for the growth of nanocrystalline hierarchical nanotubes combining physical vapor deposition of organic nanowires (ONWs) and plasma enhanced chemical vacuum deposition of anatase TiO2 layers. The ONWs act as vacuum removable 1D and 3D templates, with the whole process occurring at temperatures ranging from RT to 250 degrees C. As a result, a high density of hierarchical nanotubes with tunable diameter, length and tailored wall microstructures are formed on a variety of processable substrates as metal and metal oxide films or nanoparticles including transparent conductive oxides. The reiteration of the process leads to the development of an unprecedented 3D nanoarchitecture formed by stacking the layers of hierarchical TiO2 nanotubes. As a proof of concept, we present the superior performance of the 3D nanoarchitecture as a photoanode within an excitonic solar cell with efficiencies as high as 4.69% for a nominal thickness of the anatase layer below 2.75 mu m. Mechanical stability and straightforward implementation in devices are demonstrated at the same time. The process is extendable to other functional oxides fabricated by plasma-assisted methods with readily available applications in energy harvesting and storage, catalysis and nanosensing.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1039/c7nr00923b

Photonic Tuning of the Emission Color of Nanophosphor Films Processed at High Temperature

Geng, Dongling; Lozano, Gabriel; Calvo, Mauricio E.; Nunez, Nuria O.; Becerro, Ana I.; Ocana, Manuel; Miguez, Hernan
Advanced Optical Materials, 5 (2017) art. 1700099


Photonics offers new possibilities to tailor the photoluminescence process in phosphor-converted light emitting diodes. Herein, it is demonstrated that the emission color of thin layers of rare-earth doped nanocrystals can be strongly modulated in tunable spectral ranges using optical resonators specifically designed to this end. GdVO4:Dy3+ nanoparticles of controlled size and shape are synthesized using a solvothermal method with which highly transparent nanophosphor thin films are prepared. This paper designs and fabricates optical multilayers, which are transparent in the UV and resonant at the frequencies where the Dy3+ ions emit, to prove that the color coordinates of this emitter can be tuned from green to blue or yellow with unprecedented precision. Key to the achievement herein reported is the careful analysis of the structural and optical properties of thin nanophosphor layers with the processing temperature in order to achieve efficient photoluminescence while preserving the transparency of the film. The results open a new path for fundamental and applied research in solid-state lighting in which photonic nanostructures allow controlling the emission properties of state-of-the-art materials without altering their structure or chemical composition.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1002/adom.201700099

Formation of Subsurface W5+ Species in Gasochromic Pt/WO3 Thin Films Exposed to Hydrogen

Castillero, Pedro; Rico-Gavira, Victor; Lopez-Santos, Carmen; Barranco, Angel; Perez-Dieste, Virginia; Escudero, Carlos; Espinos, Juan P.; Gonzalez-Elipe, Agustin R.
Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 121 (2017) 15719-15727


M/WO3 (M = Pt, Pd) systems formed by a porous WO3 thin film decorated by metal nanoparticles are known for their reversible coloring upon exposure to H2 at room temperature. In this work, this gasochromic behavior is investigated in situ by means of near-ambient photoemission (NAPP). Pt/WO3 systems formed by very small Pt nanoparticles (10 ± 1 nm average size) incorporated in the pores of nanocolumnar WO3 thin films prepared by magnetron sputtering at an oblique angle have been exposed to a small pressure of hydrogen at ambient temperature. The recorded UV–vis transmission spectra showed the reversible appearance of a very intense absorption band responsible for the blue coloration of these gasochromic films. In an equivalent experiment carried out in the NAPP spectrometer, W 4f, O 1s, Pt 4f, and valence band photoemission spectra have been recorded at various photon energies to follow the evolution of the reduced tungsten species and hydroxyl groups formed upon film exposure to hydrogen. The obtained results are compared with those of a conventional X-ray photoemission study after hydrogen exposure between 298 and 573 K. As investigated by NAPP, the gasochromic behavior at 298 K is accounted for by a reaction scheme in which hydrogen atoms resulting from the dissociation of H2 onto the Pt nanoparticles are spilt over to the WO3 substrate where they form surface OH–/H2O species and subsurface W5+ cations preferentially located in buried layers of the oxide network.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.7b03385

Low-Temperature Plasma Processing of Platinum Porphyrins for the Development of Metal Nanostructured Layers

Filippin, AN; Sanchez-Valencia, JR; Idigoras, J; Macias-Montero, M; Alcaire, M; Aparicio, FJ; Espinos, JP; Lopez-Santos, C; Frutos, F; Barranco, A; Anta, JA; Borras, A
Advanced Materials Interfaces, 4 (2017) 1601233


This article establishes the bases for a vacuum and plasma supported methodology for the fabrication at mild temperatures of nanostructured platinum in the form of porous layers and nanocolumns using platinum octaethylporphyrin as precursor. In addition, the application of these materials as tunable optical filters and nano-counterelectrodes is proved. On one hand, the transparency in the ultraviolet-visible-near infrared range can be adjusted precisely between 70% and 1% by tuning the deposition and processing conditions, obtaining a high spectral planarity. Deviations of the spectra from an ideal flat filter are below 4%, paving the way to the fabrication of neutral density filters. The transparency limit values yield a sheet resistivity of approximate to 1350 and 120 Omega square(-1), respectively. On the other hand, the catalytic properties of the nanostructures are further demonstrated by their implementation as counterelectrodes of excitonic solar cells surpassing the performance of commercial platinum as counterelectrode in a 20% of the overall cell efficiency due to simultaneous enhancement of short-circuit photocurrent and open-circuit photovoltage. One of the most interesting features of the developed methodology is its straightforward application to other metal porphyrins and phthalocyanines readily sublimable under mild vacuum and temperature conditions.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1002/admi.201601233

Surface chemistry and germination improvement of Quinoa seeds subjected to plasma activation

Gomez-Ramierez, A.; Lopez-Santos, C.; Cantos, M.; Garcia, J. L.; Molina, R.; Cotrino, J.; Espinos, J. P.; Gonzalez-Elipe, A. R.
Scientific Reports, 7 (2017) art. 5924


Plasma treatment is recognized as a suitable technology to improve germination efficiency of numerous seeds. In this work Quinoa seeds have been subjected to air plasma treatments both at atmospheric and low pressure and improvements found in germination rate and percentage of success. Seed water uptake by exposure to water vapor, although slightly greater for plasma treated seeds, did not justify the observed germination improvement. To identify other possible factors contributing to germination, the chemical changes experienced by outer parts of the seed upon plasma exposure have been investigated by X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM-EDX). XPS revealed that the outer layers of the Quinoa plasma treated seeds were highly oxidized and appeared enriched in potassium ions and adsorbed nitrate species. Simultaneously, SEM-EDX showed that the enrichment in potassium and other mineral elements extended to the seed pericarp and closer zones. The disappearance from the surface of both potassium ions and nitrate species upon exposure of the plasma treated seeds to water vapor is proposed as a factor favoring germination. The use of XPS to study chemical changes at seed surfaces induced by plasma treatments is deemed very important to unravel the mechanisms contributing to germination improvement.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-06164-5

Characterization of of mechanosynthesized Bi1-xSmxFeO3 samples unencumbered by secondary phases or compositional inhomogeneity

Gil-Gonzalez, E; Perejon, A; Sanchez-Jimenez, PE; Hayward, MA; Criado, JM; Sayagues, MJ; Perez-Maqueda, LA
Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 711 (2017) 541-551


High-quality samples, in terms of phase purity and dielectric properties, of composition Bi1-xSmxFeO3 (0.05 <= x <= 0.20) have for the first time been prepared by mechanosynthesis. Close inspection of the powder diffraction data, analysis via Rietveld refinement and TEM microscopy demonstrates that the Bi1-xSmxFeO3 samples contain only perovskite phases. Additionally, by a combination of Rietveld analysis, TEM, DSC, temperature-dependent XRD and permittivity data a tentative phase diagram has been proposed where the high temperature paraelectric phase Pnma has been confirmed for samarium substituted BiFeO3. Regarding the physical properties, the samples resulted to be electrically homogenous and highly insulating at room temperature, suggesting that other sources of conductivity, such as mixed valence of Fe associated with possible oxygen non-stoichiometry, have been avoided during the samples synthesis. In spite of the high quality of the samples, the dielectric and magnetic behaviour of the Bi1-xSmxFeO3 samples change only modestly on Sm substitution, with neither a great change in the resistivity or remnant magnetisation of Sm substituted samples in comparison with BiFeO3. 

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1016/j.jallcom.2017.03.289

Cs+ immobilization by designed micaceous adsorbent under subcritical conditions

Osuna, FJ; Cota, A; Pavon, E; Pazos, MC; Alba, MD
Applied Clay Science, 143 (2017) 293-299


The adsorption of Cs+ by clay minerals is a complicate process, being cation exchange and frayed-edge sites the major mechanisms that govern it. However, environmental variables have a significant impact on the process. In this work, the influence of the temperature and time in the cesium adsorption capacity of Na-Mica-n (n = 2 and 4) have been explored under subcritical conditions. Those synthetic micas were able to immobilize cations Cs+ combining adsorption at nonspecific sites, at specific sites and chemical reaction. The distribution constant of Cs+ was larger in the Na-Mica-2 denoting a higher concentration of specific adsorption sites when layer charge decreased.

Julio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1016/j.clay.2017.03.041

Impact of moisture on efficiency-determining electronic processes in perovskite solar cells

Salado, Manuel; Contreras-Bernal, Lidia; Calio, Laura; Todinova, Anna; Lopez-Santos, Carmen; Ahmad, Shahzada; Borras, Ana; Idigoras, Jesus; Anta, Juan A.
Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 5 (2017) 10917-10927


Moisture-induced degradation in perovskite solar cells was thoroughly investigated by structural (SEM, EDS, XRD and XPS) and device characterization (impedance and intensity modulated photocurrent spectroscopy) techniques. Both the influence of the perovskite composition and the nature of the hole selective material were analyzed. The degradation rate was found to be significantly slower for mixed perovskites and P3HT-based devices. However, for a fixed degradation degree (defined as a 50% drop from the initial photocurrent), all configurations show similar features in small-perturbation analysis. Thus, a new mid-frequency signal appears in the impedance response, which seems to be related to charge accumulation at the interfaces. In addition, faster recombination, with a more important surface contribution, and slower transport were clearly inferred from our results. Both features can be associated with the deterioration of the contacts and the formation of a higher number of grain boundaries.

Junio, 2017 | DOI: 10.1039/c7ta02264f