Carbon nanotube nanowires offer numerous solar energy applications.

Solar cell technology could be enhanced with tiny materials that are one hundred thousand times smaller than a hair strand’s width.

Materials as small as 1.2 nanometers across could, according to a study that was published this month in Advanced Materials, be used in solar cells to get energy from the sun. Carbon nanotubes, which are tiny tubules made from carbon atoms, serve as the template for the inorganic halide materials.

The discovery of such tiny nanowires may result in novel properties and applications for this kind of environmentally friendly energy.

“We demonstrate that much smaller ‘picoscale’ halide perovskite structures, measuring just one unit cell or even just one quarter of a unit cell in cross section, can be enclosed in carbon nanotubes with a diameter of between 1.2 and 1.6 nm, in contrast to larger ‘bulk’ halide perovskites.”

Dr. Jeremy Sloan, from Warwick’s Department of Physics.

The absolute lowest limit at which halide perovskite-like structures can be produced as free-standing materials inside carbon nanotubes was discovered by researchers from the University of Warwick, Oxford Materials, and SuperSTEM, a national center for electron microscopy in the United Kingdom. Halide perovskites have comparable designs to calcium titanate and are regularly utilized in sunlight-powered chargers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

“In contrast to large ‘bulk’ halide perovskites, we show that much smaller ‘picoscale’ halide perovskite structures, just a single unit cell or even one quarter of a unit cell in cross section, can be encapsulated in carbon nanotubes ranging between 1.2 and 1.6 nm in diameter,” stated Dr. Jeremy Sloan from the Department of Physics at Warwick.

“The results of our study are strikingly similar to those that were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) by researchers at the University of Berkeley, highlighting even more the potential uses of these tiny materials in solar cells.”

“The wider repercussions of these studies will assist in expanding the remarkable optoelectronic properties of halide perovskites to sub-nanometer or even picoscale dimensions,” according to the study’s conclusion.

More information: Reza J. Kashtiban et al, Picoperovskites: The Smallest Conceivable Isolated Halide Perovskite Structures Formed within Carbon Nanotubes, Advanced Materials (2022). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202208575

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