Check our new publication – ACS Omega 2018, 3, 13227-13238

One-Step Synthesis, Structure, and Band Gap Properties of SnO2 Nanoparticles Made by a Low Temperature Nonaqueous Sol–Gel Technique.

ACS Omega, 2018, 3 (10), pp 13227–13238
DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.8b02122

ABSTRACT. Because of its electrically conducting properties combined with excellent thermal stability and transparency throughout the visible spectrum, tin oxide (SnO2) is extremely attractive as a transparent conducting material for applications in low-emission window coatings and solar cells, as well as in lithium-ion batteries and gas sensors. It is also an important catalyst and catalyst support for oxidation reactions. Here, we describe a novel nonaqueous sol–gel synthesis approach to produce tin oxide nanoparticles (NPs) with a low NP size dispersion. The success of this method lies in the nonhydrolytic pathway that involves the reaction between tin chloride and an oxygen donor, 1-hexanol, without the need for a surfactant or subsequent thermal treatment. This one-pot procedure is carried out at relatively low temperatures in the 160–260 °C range, compatible with coating processes on flexible plastic supports. The NP size distribution, shape, and dislocation density were studied by powder X-ray powder diffraction analyzed using the method of whole powder pattern modeling, as well as high-resolution transmission electron microscopy. The SnO2 NPs were determined to have particle sizes between 3.4 and 7.7 nm. The reaction products were characterized using liquid-state 13C and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) that confirmed the formation of dihexyl ether and 1-chlorohexane. The NPs were studied by a combination of 13C, 1H, and 119Sn solid-state NMR as well as Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) and Raman spectroscopy. The 13C SSNMR, FTIR, and Raman data showed the presence of organic species derived from the 1-hexanol reactant remaining within the samples. The optical absorption, studied using UV–visible spectroscopy, indicated that the band gap (Eg) shifted systematically to lower energy with decreasing NP sizes. This unusual result could be due to mechanical strains present within the smallest NPs perhaps associated with the organic ligands decorating the NP surface. As the size increased, we observed a correlation with an increased density of screw dislocations present within the NPs that could indicate relaxation of the stress. We suggest that this could provide a useful method for band gap control within SnO2 NPs in the absence of chemical dopants.

“Colombian Waste Biomass to Advanced Energy Materials” project hortlisted for the Newton Prize, British Council.

Very happy to find out that our Newton Institutional Link collaborative project with Magda Titirici, from QMUL and Diana  Lopez from Universidad de Antioquia on “Colombian Waste Biomass to Advanced Energy Materials” has been shortlisted for the Newton Prize, British Council.

Welcome to Lia Grogan

Welcome to Lian Grogan!

Lia is an undergraduate research assistant who will be working with Dr. Ana Sobrido’s group for a period of two months until November 2018. She is in the final year of a four year degree at Trinity College Dublin (B.A. Mod. in Nanoscience, physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials). Her project focuses on the fabrication and analysis of lignin derived freestanding carbonaceous electrodes for use in Vanadium redox flow batteries. She is happy to be working in an area of sustainable materials development, as she considers a move towards a low carbon energy future to be of critical importance. She hopes to graduate in 2019.

Maria presented her work on Flow Batteries at the Royal Society of Chemistry Energy Materials for a Low Carbon Future Conference

Maria showed her work at the Royal Society of Chemistry Energy Materials for a Low Carbon Future Conference, held during the 17th and 18th September 2018, at The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. She contributed to the meeting with a poster and also a flash presentation.

New publication – Integration of supercapacitors into printed circuit boards

In a collaboration project with UCL, Dina Ibrahim (UCL) has developed a supercapacitor integrated into a printed circuit board. Read the full article here.


Physically integrated energy storage devices are gaining increasing interest due to the rapid development of flexible, wearable and portable electronics technology. For the first time, supercapacitor components have been integrated into a printed circuit board (PCB) construct. This proof-of-concept study paves the way for integrating supercapacitors into power electronics devices and hybridising with PCB fuel cells. Commercial Norit activated carbon (NAC) was used as the electrode material and was tested in two types of electrolytes, sodium sulfate (Na2SO4) aqueous electrolyte, and Na2SO4-polyvinyl alcohol (Na2SO4-PVA) gel electrolyte. Electrochemical measurements compare the SC-PCBs to standard two-electrode button-cell supercapacitors. A volumetric energy density of 0.56 mW h cm−3 at a power density of 26 mW cm−3 was obtained in the solid-state SC-PCB system, which is over twice the values acquired in the standard cell configuration. This is due to the removal of bulky components in the standard cell, and/or decreased thickness of the overall device, and thus a decrease in the total volume of the SC-PCB configuration. The results show great potential for embedding supercapacitors into PCBs for a broad range of applications. In addition, further advantages can be realised through close physical integration with other PCB-based electrochemical power systems such as fuel cells.