Lithium-ion batteries have had a profound impact on our daily life, but inherent limitations make it difficult for Li-ion chemistries to meet the growing demands for portable electronics, electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage. Therefore, chemistries beyond Li-ion are currently being investigated and need to be made viable for commercial applications. The use of metallic Li is one of the most favoured choices for next-generation Li batteries, especially Li-S and Li-air systems. After falling into oblivion for several decades because of safety concerns, metallic Li is now ready for a revival, thanks to the development of investigative tools and nanotechnology-based solutions. In this Review, we first summarize the current understanding on Li anodes, then highlight the recent key progress in materials design and advanced characterization techniques, and finally discuss the opportunities and possible directions for future development of Li anodes in applications.
Lead halide perovskite solar cells have recently attracted tremendous attention because of their excellent photovoltaic efficiencies. However, the poor stability of both the perovskite material and the charge transport layers has so far prevented the fabrication of devices that can withstand sustained operation under normal conditions. Here, we report a solution-processed lead halide perovskite solar cell that has p-type NiOx and n-type ZnO nanoparticles as hole and electron transport layers, respectively, and shows improved stability against water and oxygen degradation when compared with devices with organic charge transport layers. Our cells have a p-i-n structure (glass/indium tin oxide/NiOx/perovskite/ZnO/Al), in which the ZnO layer isolates the perovskite and Al layers, thus preventing degradation. After 60 days storage in air at room temperature, our all-metal-oxide devices retain about 90% of their original efficiency, unlike control devices made with organic transport layers, which undergo a complete degradation after just 5 days. The initial power conversion efficiency of our devices is 14.6 +/- 1.5%, with an uncertified maximum value of 16.1%.
The oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are traditionally carried out with noble metals (such as Pt) and metal oxides (such as RuO2 and MnO2) as catalysts, respectively. However, these metal-based catalysts often suffer from multiple disadvantages, including high cost, low selectivity, poor stability and detrimental environmental effects. Here, we describe a mesoporous carbon foam co-doped with nitrogen and phosphorus that has a large surface area of similar to 1,663 m(2) g(-1) and good electrocatalytic properties for both ORR and OER. This material was fabricated using a scalable, one-step process involving the pyrolysis of a polyaniline aerogel synthesized in the presence of phytic acid. We then tested the suitability of this N,P-doped carbon foam as an air electrode for primary and rechargeable Zn-air batteries. Primary batteries demonstrated an open-circuit potential of 1.48 V, a specific capacity of 735 mAh g(Zn)(-1) (corresponding to an energy density of 835 Wh kg(Zn)(-1)), a peak power density of 55 mW cm(-2), and stable operation for 240 h after mechanical recharging. Two-electrode rechargeable batteries could be cycled stably for 180 cycles at 2 mA cm(-2). We also examine the activity of our carbon foam for both OER and ORR independently, in a three-electrode configuration, and discuss ways in which the Zn-air battery can be further improved. Finally, our density functional theory calculations reveal that the N,P co-doping and graphene edge effects are essential for the bifunctional electrocatalytic activity of our material.
Two-dimensional crystals have emerged as a class of materials that may impact future electronic technologies. Experimentally identifying and characterizing new functional two-dimensional materials is challenging, but also potentially rewarding. Here, we fabricate field-effect transistors based on few-layer black phosphorus crystals with thickness down to a few nanometres. Reliable transistor performance is achieved at room temperature in samples thinner than 7.5 nm, with drain current modulation on the order of 10(5) and well-developed current saturation in the I-V characteristics. The charge-carrier mobility is found to be thickness-dependent, with the highest values up to similar to 1,000 cm(2) V-1 s(-1) obtained for a thickness of similar to 10nm. Our results demonstrate the potential of black phosphorus thin crystals as a new two-dimensional material for applications in nanoelectronic devices.
Metal-halide perovskites are crystalline materials originally developed out of scientific curiosity. Unexpectedly, solar cells incorporating these perovskites are rapidly emerging as serious contenders to rival the leading photovoltaic technologies. Power conversion efficiencies have jumped from 3% to over 20% in just four years of academic research. Here, we review the rapid progress in perovskite solar cells, as well as their promising use in light-emitting devices. In particular, we describe the broad tunability and fabrication methods of these materials, the current understanding of the operation of state-of-the-art solar cells and we highlight the properties that have delivered light-emitting diodes and lasers. We discuss key thermal and operational stability challenges facing perovskites, and give an outlook of future research avenues that might bring perovskite technology to commercialization.
Solid-state light-emitting devices based on direct-bandgap semiconductors have, over the past two decades, been utilized as energy-efficient sources of lighting. However, fabrication of these devices typically relies on expensive high-temperature and high-vacuum processes, rendering them uneconomical for use in large-area displays(1,2). Here, we report high-brightness light-emitting diodes based on solution-processed organometal halide perovskites. We demonstrate electroluminescence in the near-infrared, green and red by tuning the halide compositions in the perovskite. In our infrared device, a thin 15 nm layer of CH3NH3PbI3-xClx perovskite emitter is sandwiched between larger-bandgap titanium dioxide (TiO2) and poly(9,9'-dioctyl-fluorene) (F8) layers, effectively confining electrons and holes in the perovskite layer for radiative recombination. We report an infrared radiance of 13.2 W sr(-1) m(-2) at a current density of 363 mA cm(-2), with highest external and internal quantum efficiencies of 0.76% and 3.4%, respectively. In our green light-emitting device with an ITO/PEDOT: PSS/CH3NH3PbBr3/F8/Ca/Ag structure, we achieved a luminance of 364 cd m(-2) at a current density of 123 mA cm(-2), giving external and internal quantum efficiencies of 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively. We show, using photoluminescence studies, that radiative bimolecular recombination is dominant at higher excitation densities. Hence, the quantum efficiencies of the perovskite light-emitting diodes increase at higher current densities. This demonstration of effective perovskite electroluminescence offers scope for developing this unique class of materials into efficient and colour-tunable light emitters for low-cost display, lighting and optical communication applications.
Sodium-ion batteries have recently attracted significant attention as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries because sodium sources do not present the geopolitical issues that lithium sources might. Although recent reports on cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries have demonstrated performances comparable to their lithium-ion counterparts, the major scientific challenge for a competitive sodium-ion battery technology is to develop viable anode materials. Here we show that a hybrid material made out of a few phosphorene layers sandwiched between graphene layers shows a specific capacity of 2,440 mA h g(-1) (calculated using the mass of phosphorus only) at a current density of 0.05 A g(-1) and an 83% capacity retention after 100 cycles while operating between 0 and 1.5 V. Using in situ transmission electron microscopy and ex situ X-ray diffraction techniques, we explain the large capacity of our anode through a dual mechanism of intercalation of sodium ions along the x axis of the phosphorene layers followed by the formation of a Na3P alloy. The presence of graphene layers in the hybrid material works as a mechanical backbone and an electrical highway, ensuring that a suitable elastic buffer space accommodates the anisotropic expansion of phosphorene layers along the y and z axial directions for stable cycling operation.
Organometal halide perovskites exhibit large bulk crystal domain sizes, rare traps, excellent mobilities and carriers that are free at room temperature-properties that support their excellent performance in charge-separating devices. In devices that rely on the forward injection of electrons and holes, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), excellent mobilities contribute to the efficient capture of non-equilibrium charge carriers by rare non-radiative centres. Moreover, the lack of bound excitons weakens the competition of desired radiative (over undesired non-radiative) recombination. Here we report a perovskite mixed material comprising a series of differently quantum-size-tuned grains that funnels photoexcitations to the lowest-bandgap light-emitter in the mixture. The materials function as charge carrier concentrators, ensuring that radiative recombination successfully outcompetes trapping and hence non-radiative recombination. We use the new material to build devices that exhibit an external quantum efficiency (EQE) of 8.8% and a radiance of 80 W sr(-1) m(-2). These represent the brightest and most efficient solution-processed near-infrared LEDs to date.
Efficient intercalation of ions in layered materials forms the basis of electrochemical energy storage devices such as batteries and capacitors(1-6). Recent research has focused on the exfoliation of layered materials and then restacking the two-dimensional exfoliated nanosheets to form electrodes with enhanced electrochemical response(7-11). Here, we show that chemically exfoliated nanosheets of MoS2 containing a high concentration of the metallic 1T phase can electrochemically intercalate ions such as H+, Na+ and K+ with extraordinary efficiency and achieve capacitance values ranging from similar to 400 to similar to 700 F cm(-3) in a variety of aqueous electrolytes. We also demonstrate that this material is suitable for high-voltage (3.5 V) operation in non-aqueous organic electrolytes, showing prime volumetric energy and power density values, coulombic efficiencies in excess of 95%, and stability over 5,000 cycles. As we show by X-ray diffraction analysis, these favourable electrochemical properties of 1T MoS2 layers are mainly a result of their hydrophilicity and high electrical conductivity, as well as the ability of the exfoliated layers to dynamically expand and intercalate the various ions.
Graphene and other two-dimensional materials, such as transition metal dichalcogenides, have rapidly established themselves as intriguing building blocks for optoelectronic applications, with a strong focus on various photodetection platforms. The versatility of these material systems enables their application in areas including ultrafast and ultrasensitive detection of light in the ultraviolet, visible, infrared and terahertz frequency ranges. These detectors can be integrated with other photonic components based on the same material, as well as with silicon photonic and electronic technologies. Here, we provide an overview and evaluation of state-of-the-art photodetectors based on graphene, other two-dimensional materials, and hybrid systems based on the combination of different two-dimensional crystals or of two-dimensional crystals and other (nano)materials, such as plasmonic nanoparticles, semiconductors, quantum dots, or their integration with (silicon) waveguides.
Perovskite solar cells with submicrometre-thick CH3NH3PbI3 or CH3NH3PbI3-xClx active layers show a power conversion efficiency as high as 15%. However, compared to the best-performing device, the average efficiency was as low as 12%, with a large standard deviation (s.d.). Here, we report perovskite solar cells with an average efficiency exceeding 16% and best efficiency of 17%. This was enabled by the growth of CH3NH3PbI3 cuboids with a controlled size via a two-step spin-coating procedure. Spin-coating of a solution of CH3NH3I with different concentrations follows the spin-coating of PbI2, and the cuboid size of CH3NH3PbI3 is found to strongly depend on the concentration of CH3NH3I. Light-harvesting efficiency and charge-carrier extraction are significantly affected by the cuboid size. Under simulated one-sun illumination, average efficiencies of 16.4% (s.d. +/- 0.35), 16.3% (s.d. +/- 0.44) and 13.5% (s.d. +/- 0.34) are obtained from solutions of CH3NH3I with concentrations of 0.038 M, 0.050 M and 0.063 M, respectively. By controlling the size of the cuboids of CH3NH3PbI3 during their growth, we achieved the best efficiency of 17.01% with a photocurrent density of 21.64 mA cm(-2), open-circuit photovoltage of 1.056 V and fill factor of 0.741.
Graphene and other 2D atomic crystals are of considerable interest in catalysis because of their unique structural and electronic properties. Over the past decade, the materials have been used in a variety of reactions, including the oxygen reduction reaction, water splitting and CO2 activation, and have been shown to exhibit a range of catalytic mechanisms. Here, we review recent advances in the use of graphene and other 2D materials in catalytic applications, focusing in particular on the catalytic activity of heterogeneous systems such as van der Waals heterostructures (stacks of several 2D crystals). We discuss the advantages of these materials for catalysis and the different routes available to tune their electronic states and active sites. We also explore the future opportunities of these catalytic materials and the challenges they face in terms of both fundamental understanding and the development of industrial applications.
Metasurfaces are planar structures that locally modify the polarization, phase and amplitude of light in reflection or transmission, thus enabling lithographically patterned flat optical components with functionalities controlled by design(1,2). Transmissive metasurfaces are especially important, as most optical systems used in practice operate in transmission. Several types of transmissive metasurface have been realized(3-6), but with either low transmission efficiencies or limited control over polarization and phase. Here, we show a metasurface platform based on high-contrast dielectric elliptical nanoposts that provides complete control of polarization and phase with subwavelength spatial resolution and an experimentally measured efficiency ranging from 72% to 97%, depending on the exact design. Such complete control enables the realization of most free-space transmissive optical elements such as lenses, phase plates, wave plates, polarizers, beamsplitters, as well as polarization-switchable phase holograms and arbitrary vector beam generators using the same metamaterial platform.
The discovery of the photoelectric effect by Heinrich Hertz in 1887 set the foundation for over 125 years of hot carrier science and technology. In the early 1900s it played a critical role in the development of quantum mechanics, but even today the unique properties of these energetic, hot carriers offer new and exciting opportunities for fundamental research and applications. Measurement of the kinetic energy and momentum of photoejected hot electrons can provide valuable information on the electronic structure of materials. The heat generated by hot carriers can be harvested to drive a wide range of physical and chemical processes. Their kinetic energy can be used to harvest solar energy or create sensitive photodetectors and spectrometers. Photoejected charges can also be used to electrically dope two-dimensional materials. Plasmon excitations in metallic nanostructures can be engineered to enhance and provide valuable control over the emission of hot carriers. This Review discusses recent advances in the understanding and application of plasmon- induced hot carrier generation and highlights some of the exciting new directions for the field.
The compelling demand for higher performance and lower power consumption in electronic systems is the main driving force of the electronics industry's quest for devices and/or architectures based on new materials. Here, we provide a review of electronic devices based on two-dimensional materials, outlining their potential as a technological option beyond scaled complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor switches. We focus on the performance limits and advantages of these materials and associated technologies, when exploited for both digital and analog applications, focusing on the main figures of merit needed to meet industry requirements. We also discuss the use of two-dimensional materials as an enabling factor for flexible electronics and provide our perspectives on future developments.
Metallic lithium is a promising anode candidate for future high-energy-density lithium batteries. It is a light-weight material, and has the highest theoretical capacity (3,860 mAh g(-1)) and the lowest electrochemical potential of all candidates. There are, however, at least three major hurdles before lithium metal anodes can become a viable technology: uneven and dendritic lithium deposition, unstable solid electrolyte interphase and almost infinite relative dimension change during cycling. Previous research has tackled the first two issues, but the last is still mostly unsolved. Here we report a composite lithium metal anode that exhibits low dimension variation (similar to 20%) during cycling and good mechanical flexibility. The anode is composed of 7 wt% 'lithiophilic' layered reduced graphene oxide with nanoscale gaps that can host metallic lithium. The anode retains up to similar to 3,390 mAh g(-1) of capacity, exhibits low overpotential (similar to 80 mV at 3 mA cm(-2)) and a flat voltage profile in a carbonate electrolyte. A full-cell battery with a LiCoO2 cathode shows good rate capability and flat voltage profiles.
Raman spectroscopy is an integral part of graphene research. It is used to determine the number and orientation of layers, the quality and types of edge, and the effects of perturbations, such as electric and magnetic fields, strain, doping, disorder and functional groups. This, in turn, provides insight into all sp(2)-bonded carbon allotropes, because graphene is their fundamental building block. Here we review the state of the art, future directions and open questions in Raman spectroscopy of graphene. We describe essential physical processes whose importance has only recently been recognized, such as the various types of resonance at play, and the role of quantum interference. We update all basic concepts and notations, and propose a terminology that is able to describe any result in literature. We finally highlight the potential of Raman spectroscopy for layered materials other than graphene.
Semiconductor p-n junctions are essential building blocks for electronic and optoelectronic devices(1,2). In conventional p-n junctions, regions depleted of free charge carriers form on either side of the junction, generating built-in potentials associated with uncompensated dopant atoms. Carrier transport across the junction occurs by diffusion and drift processes influenced by the spatial extent of this depletion region. With the advent of atomically thin van der Waals materials and their heterostructures, it is now possible to realize a p-n junction at the ultimate thickness limit(3-10). Van der Waals junctions composed of p-and n-type semiconductors-each just one unit cell thick-are predicted to exhibit completely different charge transport characteristics than bulk heterojunctions(10-12). Here, we report the characterization of the electronic and optoelectronic properties of atomically thin p-n heterojunctions fabricated using van der Waals assembly of transition-metal dichalcogenides. We observe gate-tunable diode-like current rectification and a photovoltaic response across the p-n interface. We find that the tunnelling-assisted interlayer recombination of the majority carriers is responsible for the tunability of the electronic and optoelectronic processes. Sandwiching an atomic p-n junction between graphene layers enhances the collection of the photoexcited carriers. The atomically scaled van der Waals p-n heterostructures presented here constitute the ultimate functional unit for nanoscale electronic and optoelectronic devices.
Free-standing silicene, a silicon analogue of graphene, has a buckled honeycomb lattice(1) and, because of its Dirac bandstructure(2,3) combined with its sensitive surface, offers the potential for a widely tunable two-dimensional monolayer, where external fields and interface interactions can be exploited to influence fundamental properties such as bandgap(4) and band character(5) for future nanoelectronic devices(6,7). The quantum spin Hall effect(3), chiral superconductivity(8), giant magnetoresistance(9) and various exotic field-dependent states7 have been predicted in monolayer silicene. Despite recent progress regarding the epitaxial synthesis of silicene(8-10) and investigation of its electronic properties(11,13-15), to date there has been no report of experimental silicene devices because of its air stability issue(16). Here, we report a silicene field-effect transistor, corroborating theoretical expectations regarding its ambipolar Dirac charge transport(17), with a measured roomtemperature mobility of similar to 100 cm(2) V-1 s(-1) attributed to acoustic phonon-limited transport(18) and grain boundary scattering. These results are enabled by a growth-transfer-fabrication process that we have devised-silicene encapsulated delamination with native electrodes. This approach addresses a major challenge for material preservation of silicene during transfer and device fabrication and is applicable to other air-sensitive two-dimensional materials such as germanene(2-4) and phosphorene(19,20). Silicene's allotropic affinity with bulk silicon and its low-temperature synthesis compared with graphene or alternative two-dimensional semiconductors suggest a more direct integration with ubiquitous semiconductor technology.
Two-dimensional materials are an emerging class of new materials with a wide range of electrical properties and potential practical applications. Although graphene(1) is the most well-studied two-dimensional material, single layers of other materials, such as insulating BN (ref. 2) and semiconducting MoS2 (refs 3,4) or WSe2 (refs 5,6), are gaining increasing attention as promising gate insulators and channel materials for field-effect transistors. Because monolayer MoS2 is a direct-bandgap semiconductor(7,8) due to quantum-mechanical confinement(7,9,10), it could be suitable for applications in optoelectronic devices where the direct bandgap would allow a high absorption coefficient and efficient electron-hole pair generation under photo-excitation. Here, we demonstrate ultrasensitive monolayer MoS2 phototransistors with improved device mobility and ON current. Our devices show a maximum external photoresponsivity of 880 AW(-1) at a wavelength of 561 nm and a photoresponse in the 400-680 nm range. With recent developments in large-scale production techniques such as liquid-scale exfoliation(11-13) and chemical vapour deposition-like growth(14,15), MoS2 shows important potential for applications in MoS2-based integrated optoelectronic circuits, light sensing, biomedical imaging, video recording and spectroscopy.