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Plasmonics-based Energy Harvesting for Catalysis


Many critical photochemical and photophysical processes, from photosynthesis in plants, to photocatalytic reactions, and to generation of electricity in solar cells, depend on an efficient light-matter interaction. In order to increase, for example, the efficiency of photocatalysis, the interaction of the photocatalyst with light has to be increased. This project will pursue two lines of investigation in order to achieve this. Firstly, the concept of light-harvesting will be exploited. Light energy can be harvested by collecting, directing and concentrating it at a reaction center, in a fashion that mimics that used by plants. Secondly, for specific types of catalysis such as noble metal nano-particle (NP) based catalysis, the plasmon light field at the metal NPs can potentially be used to enable a more efficient light-matter interaction. The applicant proposes to combine both approaches, to create a plasmonic antenna to funnel light to a reaction center, whilst at the same time using the plasmons generated as an efficient reaction field in catalysis. The outcome will make it possible to drastically increase activities of (photo)catalysts, enabling their efficient operation under sunlight or even in weak room light conditions. For this, the project firstly adevelops novel photo-induced synthesis for metal NPs, both in solution and at surfaces, as well as at arranging the NPs in effective antennae. Secondly, microscopy modes will be developed/implemented that allow monitoring the growth of the NPs in situ, that allow checking the quality of the arrays and that allow in situ monitoring of catalytic test reactions. These knowledge will be applied to ‘real world’ (photo)catalysts (gold NP catalysis and TiO2, respectively). This project will thus result in new light-induced synthesis and fabrication methods of NPs; in new and/or improved microscopy modes and spectroscopic schemes in order to study the relationship between plasmonic properties and chemical reactions.

Call for proposal

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Oude markt 13
3000 Leuven

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Vlaams Gewest Prov. Vlaams-Brabant Arr. Leuven
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Hiroshi Ujii (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Sofie Heroes (Ms.)
EU contribution
No data

Beneficiaries (2)