Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RETAIN (Routing Energy Transfer via Assembly of Inorganic Nanoplatelets)
Reporting period: 2018-07-16 to 2020-07-15
The results and activities of the project were disseminated through peer-reviewed publications and participation in seminars, workshops, and conferences. The project yielded eight publications with two more in preparation (all publications and some conference materials resulted from the project are openly accessible at the RETAIN Collection in Zenodo repository, https://zenodo.org/communities/h2020-msca-if-2017-retain/). Scientific concepts behind the project, as well as its objectives and results, have been communicated through outreach events and social media platforms. The outreach events included an interactive stand “Glow with a Flow” at the European Researchers' Night in Brussels in 2018, an educational laboratory activity “Energy Revolution: It’s All about Nanochemistry” at the Festival of Science 2018 in Genova, and the numerous Family & School Day activities at the host institution and the city of Genova. The outreach and science communication activities were designed and performed together with Ph.D. and Master students from IIT and the University of Genova. A Twitter account @RETAIN_H2020 (https://twitter.com/RETAIN_H2020) was created to engage with a broader community and to communicate the latest results of the project. Several blog posts were published on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and IIT Talk webpage to communicate the results of the project in an informal and accessible way.
First, the structural analysis of CsPbX3 nanocrystal superlattices by x-ray diffraction revealed that they are exceptionally well-ordered solids. Such an order leads to the peculiar x-ray interference effect, which is very sensitive to the structural parameters of the superlattices and enables their precise structural characterization. These findings led to the development of a general methodology for superlattice characterization by means of x-ray diffraction coupled with an open-source data analysis algorithm. It is anticipated that the discovered approach will become an alternative to resource-intensive synchrothron experiments and make the characterization of similar materials accessible to many researchers in academia and industry.
Second, it was found that directed energy transfer initially plays a minor role in the properties of a single CsPbX3 nanocrystal superlattice. However, a fraction of the nanocrystals coalesces into bigger particles over time inside the superlattice. These bigger particles have smaller bandgaps, which turns on the fast and efficient energy transfer: nearly all of the energy of light absorbed by a superlattice ends up funneling into the large particles. The impact of these findings is two-fold. On the one hand, these results challenge recent reports of collective properties in similar materials by providing an alternative explanation. That contributes to a more accurate understanding of the physics of these materials. On the other hand, the aged superlattices are a new example of an artificial nanomaterial with a built-in directional energy transfer. That finding makes them very attractive for applications in artificial photosynthesis and indicates a future research direction worth of investment and study.
Besides the scientific impact, the project substantially impacted the researcher’s career. The new scientific and soft skills acquired over the course of the project increased technical competence and enhanced the preparation of the researcher for an independent career. The communication and dissemination activities resulted from the project contributed to the strengthening of the researcher’s track record. Overall, the project strengthened the researcher’s motivation and prospects to become an independent leader in the design and photophysics of artificial excitonic materials.