Materials for Energy and Environment

Coordinator Carmela Aruta

CO2 emissions, energy consumptions, limited resources, climate change, pollution are all challenges to be faced for a more sustainable future. The rationale material design is particularly important to increase the development and utilization of clean energy. Our approach is based on the study of the materials properties at the fundamental level. The materials mainly in thin film form, also as heterostructures or thin membranes, are produced by pulsed laser deposition, sputtering, evaporation and chemical routes and are extensively investigated both at home laboratories and at large scale facilities for the advanced and in-operando characterizations. Theoretical calculations are used to understand the correlation between electronic properties and functionality of materials.

The main aim is to obtain indication on how we can make more efficient and competitive materials for the technological applications in the field of energy harvesting, storage and conversion, as well as environmental field. We investigate new materials and structures for the energy harvesting by exploring different functional properties, as thermoelectricity, piezoelectricity and ferroelectricity, as well as by exploiting solar energy. As for the latter, materials for the conversion by photovoltaic and thermal processes to directly convert into electricity are studied, but also for the photo-assisted environmental pollution abatement. Our field of research involves materials for the conversion and storage of the solar energy into a chemical fuel, like hydrogen, by different processes as electro- and photo-catalytic or photoelectrochemical processes. The next step is the energy storage and conversion of the chemical energy into electricity. For this purpose, ionic, electronic or mixed electronic/ionic materials are investigated as innovative constituents of electrochemical devices, such as batteries and solid oxide fuel cells, which in reverse configuration can in turn produce green fuel.

A partial list of investigated materials is:

  • Doped and undoped ceria
  • Graphene and Transition metal dichalcogenides
  • LiMn2O4
  • BaFe2O4, Bi2FeCrO6, BiFeO3
  • Doped and undoped KNbO3
  • Other oxide materials such as TiO2, SnO2, SrTiO3, ZnO

Research Topics

  • Energy production, conversion, storage and harvesting
  • Environmental pollution abatement

SPIN belongs to
Cnr - Department of Physical Sciences
and Technologies of Matter