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Last updated: 26th April 2023

Energy Conversion and Storage Research (ECSR)

Energy Conversion and Storage Research group led by Dr. Syed Farid Uddin Farhad, Industrial Physics Division (IPD) is currently conducting research on the following two topics:


MoST-GoB project#404 ES :FY21-22Nanostructured and multinary metal oxide-based photoelectrodes for self-sustained photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices


There is an increasing demand for affordable, environment-friendly, and sustainable energy sources to meet targets in reducing greenhouse gases. In addition, to meet the ever-increasing present and future energy demand we have to establish a sustainable solar energy conversion and storage system due to the intermittent nature of the most abundant renewable energy source sunlight. One promising strategy to utilize this immense and ubiquitous energy reservoir is photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting for efficient sunlight harvesting and storage. PEC system uses sunlight illuminated semiconductors to split water into hydrogen (a clean solar fuel) and oxygen. Semiconducting metal oxides are an intriguing class of photoelectrodes that can potentially enable large-scale solar hydrogen production via PEC water splitting. For devising self-sustained efficient PEC devices, tremendous efforts have been devoted worldwide to developing multinary metal oxides due to inherent drawbacks in light absorption, carrier transport, and stability of binary metal oxide-based photoelectrodes. To this end, rational design and judicious selection of materials and synthesis techniques are the keys to the development of efficient photoelectrodes. Such photoelectrodes should be solution processable for developing cost-effective manufacturing plants favorable for industrial scale-up. In this proposal, we aim to utilize solution-processable approaches to further develop bismuth-based multinary metal oxide photoelectrodes at ECSR, IPD using existing facilities and expertise to realize a cost-effective and high-performance PEC system for solar fuels. A schematic of a preliminary designed (copyright) self-sustained PEC device is given below:


Figure: Schematic depiction of the proposed CBO(CuBi2O4) photocathode (PC)-BVO(BiVO4) photoanode (PA) based tandem PEC cell for overall water splitting. Here, Ec (solid line) and Ev (dotted line) are the approximated conduction and valence band positions of the respective metal oxides; PEM (e.g., Nafion) is a proton exchange membrane that may be employed between the PA and PC for suppressing the products crossover.


Conference paper presentations: 1. AIP Publishing Horizons-Energy Storage and Conversion, 4-6 August 2021 

                                 2. International Solar Fuels Conference, 26 - 29 July 2021 (Royal Society Chemistry, UK)

         3. 3rd Commonwealth Chemistry Posters (Video link), 28 - 29 September 2022 (Royal Society Chemistry, UK)


Peer-reviewed Journal paper: 1. J. Appl. Phys. 130 (23), 235107 (2021); doi: 10.1063/5.0074148


TWAS/UNESCO project#2: Plasmonic nanoparticle decorated vertically aligned ZnO NRs for  Eco-friendly and Highly efficient Perovskite Solar Cells


Solar photovoltaic (PV) is one of the most promising renewable energy sources to meet the present and future energy demands of our planet. However, the current technology behind the production of solar PVs is very expensive because of the scarcity of raw materials and sophisticated manufacturing techniques. At present, the majority of installed solar panels are made up of silicon (Si)-wafer,s and they comprise about 85% of the global solar panel market share. However, Si-based light-harvesting devices require a large amount of material, high temperatures to produce high purity crystals. These cost factors make them very expensive during mass production. The cheaper solar cells (~15% of global solar PV market share) are made up of CdTe and CuInGaSe(CIGS) thin films. But base materials for this group of solar cells are suffering from two important issues: (1) Cd (cadmium) is a toxic material that may be harmful to the environment; (2) Te (tellurium), In (indium) and Ga (gallium) are scarce materials. Therefore, resource limitation including the environmental issue limits their practical potential in the case of Tera Watt (TW) level solar panel deployment. To meet up with future energy demands as well as environmental sustainability issues, an industrially feasible plan could be the use of non-toxic earth-abundant materials for fabricating solar cells. Metal oxides (for example, ZnO, TiO2, SnO2, Cu2O, CuO, etc.), metal composites (for example, CZTS: CuZnSnS), and perovskites (for example, formamidinium tin iodide (FASnI3)) are showing much promise for cost-effective, ecofriendly solar PV fabrication. Out of the various kind of PVs, hybrid inorganic-organic PVs based on lead (Pb) compounds recently attract great attention due to their demonstrated power conversion efficiency (PCE) exceeding 25%, solution-processability, potential integration into the tandem solar cells. However, utilization of Pb-based perovskites as absorber materials hinders the large-scale commercial production of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) due to the lack of any specified protocol needed for handling the large amount of toxic Pb at the industrial level. Therefore, an economically viable and environmentally sustainable plan could be the use of non-toxic tin (Sn)-based perovskite absorber material as well as utilizing earth-abundant metal oxide nanostructure-based charge collection and separation means for pushing the reported PCE further. To this end, rational design and judicious selection of materials and synthesis techniques are the keys to the development of efficient and eco-friendly PSCs. In this project, we aim to utilize a solution-processable synthesis approach and state-of-the-art characterization tools available in the IPD for the development of plasmonic nanoparticle decorated vertically aligned ZnO Nanorods (NRs) based PSC. We will use 3D graphene or any other carbon-based material as a back electrode for ensuring high performance and stability of the proposed toxic Pb-free PSC. The synthesis and characterization facilities available in BCSIR along with our collaborators' abroad (UK & Japan) will be utilized to devise an eco-friendly, cost-effective, and high-performance toxic Pb free PSC. A schematic of a preliminary designed (copyright) Pb-free PSC device is given below: