New carbon based hybrid nanocomposites for photocurrent generation

During the last decade, nanocomposite materials have spurred large interest, and with the rise of nanotechnology, the development of new nanocomposite materials promoting new properties has taken a step forward. These nanocomposite materials will be the key components for the development of new applications in the field of nanotechnology. The combination of nanoparticles with carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has proven to greatly broaden the area of potential applications, such as gas sensors, solar cells, bio-imaging… Carbon based hybrid nanocomposite combining metal oxide nanoparticles with carbon nanotubes have attracted considerable attention, and it was shown that the presence of carbon nanotubes can influence the growth of these nanomaterials. In fact, carbon based hybrid nanocomposites are an emerging class of nanomaterials that has spurred a lot of interest due to their unique optical properties.

We are investigating potential carbon based hybrid nanocomposites to produce photocurrent under visible light and UV light excitation. Our recent investigations have shown that it is possible to obtain photocurrent production by combining HfO2 nanoparticles with multi-walled carbon nanotubes. The other nanoparticles coupled with CNT are ZnO and Ag nanoparticles. Both HfO2 and ZnO when combined with CNT produce a photocurrent however, the origin of these photo-generated charges are quite different as one is a dielectric while the other is a wide band gap semiconductor. In both cases surface defects play an important role is photocurrent generation.

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Research project partially funded by the Estonian Centre of Excellence 2015 EQUiTANT (TK134).