A nanomaterial thin-film device provides a low-cost, facile fabrication pathway to commercialize the technology to the sustainable energy market. Metal oxide thin films have been fabricated to a photoelectrochemical cell by solar energy. The prototype device uses both low energy cost for manufacturing and low materials cost for devices. The self-modulated device platform can also find other applications in sensors and detectors. The resultant prototype device can be deployed to the automobile industry or power plants with very low initial costs. The device can also be made extremely compact and efficient. It uses solar energy as the only power source.

This innovation consists of quantumdot, sensitized solar cells of aligned TiO2 nanowire arrays to improve transport properties. Arrays of TiO2 nanowires are sensitized with lightabsorbing semiconductor CdS quantum dots (nanoparticles) or metal nanoparticles to increase visible light absorption. The photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) is based on nanostructured TiO2 photoanodes and Cu photocathodes. The photoelectrochemistry efficiency and performance for CO2 conversion reaches 5 to 8%. Robust self-assembly solution processes can be used to grow 1D nanostructure thin films with properties of superior charge mobility and transport property, large reaction surface area, and optimal exciton separation distance.

This innovation has demonstrated a zero carbon footprint by recycling CO2 to fuels that are compatible with all existing fuel utilities, using a solely renewable energy source as the minimum energy requirement for CO2 chemical conversion in a very compact device platform.

This work was done by Bin Chen of LC Tech for Ames Research Center. NASA invites companies to inquire about partnering opportunities and licensing this patented technology. Contact the Ames Technology Partnerships Office at 1-855-627-2249 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Refer to ARC-16461-1.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2015 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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