Frontiers in Energy Research: Fall 2016

Something Stranger

Unusual materials with rare properties could redesign solar panels

Just like something out of DC comics, the titanium pernitride’s atoms can’t settle down. The result is a material that can act as a shield and conduct electricity.

It’s like something from a graphic novel with superheroes. The material’s atoms can’t settle down. The result is a metastable material with unusual properties. Scientists at the Energy Frontier Research in Extreme Environments (EFree) built such a material: titanium pernitride. It’s nearly as hard as diamonds, it conducts electricity, and it could change our view of explosives. At the Center for Next Generation of Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability (CNGMD), researchers reconfigured tin and nitrogen atoms. The resulting structure easily loses electrons when light strikes and could change how we build solar panels, making them more durable and efficient. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory leads the CNGMD. The Carnegie Institution of Washington leads EFree. Both centers are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

More Information: 

Bhardam VS, DY Kim, and TA Strobel. 2016. “High-Pressure Synthesis and Characterization of Incompressible Titanium Pernitride.” Chemistry of Materials 28:1616-1620. DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b00042

Caskey CM, A Holder, S Shulda, ST Christensen, D Diercks, C P Schwartz, D Biagioni, D Norlund, A Kukliansky, A Natan, D Prendergast, B Orvananos, W Sun, X Zhang, G Ceder, DS Ginley, W Tumas, JD Perkins, V Stevanoic, X Pylypenko, S Lany, RM Richards, and A Zakutayev. 2016a. “Synthesis of a Mixed-Valent Tin Nitride and Considerations of Its Possible Crystal Structures.” Journal of Chemical Physics 144:144201. DOI: 10.1063/1.4945561

Caskey CM, JA Seabold, V Stevanovic, M Ma, WA Smith, DS Ginley, NR Neale, RM Richards, S Lany, and A Zakutayev. 2016. “Semiconducting Properties of Spinel Tin Nitride and Other IV3N4 Polymorphs.” Journal of Materials Chemistry C 3:1389-1396. DOI: 10.1039/C4TC02528H

Zakutayev A. 2016. “Design of Nitride Semiconductors for Solar Energy Conversion.” Journal of Materials Chemistry A 4:6742. DOI: 10.1039/C5TA09446A

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