Modulating the energy efficiency of model thin film energy materials by active strain (SUSTRAINABLE)

01 January 2023 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Spectroscopic methods
    • Surface and interface chemistry
  • Engineering and technology
    • Photodetectors, optical sensors and solar cells
    • Microfabrication and manufacturing
    • Heterogeneous catalysis
nanomechanical platform to strain free-standing thin films modulate metal thin film properties for electrocatalysis tailor phase and bandgap of metal halide perovskite-based optoelectronic devices
Project description

A grand challenge of the 21st century is to meet the ever-increasing global energy demand. With the advent of (i) metal halide perovskite and (ii) metal thin films, (i) solar light can today be transformed into electricity and (ii) electric energy stored into chemicals, yet, with significant energy losses. Therefore, pushing the energy efficiency of these functional energy materials beyond current limits is of ultimate importance. Today's efforts have however mainly focused on advanced synthesis protocols to design the next-generation of functional energy materials. Here, in contrast, we explore a radically different, nanomechanical approach based on elastic deformation of the metal (halide perovskite) thin films – an approach still in its infancy. In particular, controlled and dynamic expansion of the crystal lattice will be exploited to tailor the bulk and surface properties of metal (halide perovskite) thin films. Our vision is that delivering strain as an active, external ‘stimulus’ will open an unparalleled way of application-tailored tuning of the performance, not achievable by rational materials design. This WEAVE project will exploit an interdisciplinary and synergetic methodology by combining and advancing (i) a unique nanomechanical test platform (UCL) from materials engineering to strain (ii) thin film functional energy materials (UGent, KUL), (iii) probed by state-of-the-art optical (KUL), X-ray (UGent) and electron-based (UCL) characterization.