Project title: Theory and simulation of metal/semiconductor nanoparticle interfaces for solar energy storage

Supervisors: Dr Peter Haynes, Dr James Spencer, Prof Nicholas Harrison and Dr D Jason Riley

Project description:

Solar energy has long been recognised for its enormous potential to provide the world with clean energy. The main challenge however arises in attempting to store this energy. The potentially most promising candidates in overcoming this problem are photosynthetic cells which use the energy gained from sunlight to split water into Hydrogen and Oxygen. 

In a photosynthetic cell, a semiconductor material is placed into contact with a metal to from a Schottky barrier type interface. Incoming light creates electron-hole pairs in the semiconductor, which separate with the electron diffusing into the metal. The electron and the hole take part in two different redox reactions, the net effect being the splitting of water by sunlight. 

My work focuses on using linear scaling density functional theory calculations to study the performance of Titanium dioxide/Platinum nano-particles for solar energy storage. The ultimate aim is to compute the theoretical efficiency of said nano-particles from first principles.