Lay summary

Basic instrumentation for the functional characterization of seminconductor materials for photoelectrochemical and photocatalytical applications, such as waste water treatment and solar hydrogen generation by photoelectrochemical cells, has been purchased with the SNF funds by the Empa Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics,

The VoltaLab80 electrochemical test station, together with a solar simulator, is currently being used to record photocurrent data, cyclic voltamograms and electrochemical impedance spectra from thin films with photoelectrochemical properties. Two PhD students, two scientists and several undergraduate students have been using this equipment so far, funded by SNF, BfE, EU, and Empa.

The monochromatic light source has been complemented by three additional instruments built by staff and students or trainees at Empa's Laboratory for Functional Polymers and Laboratory for Reliability and Electronics, with funds from Empa. In particular have they built 1) a light scattering instrument that permits to record angle dependent and wavelength dependent scattering curves; this method is applied to measure organic solar cells and understand the influence of disorder on the scattering properties; 2) a photoconductivity instrument to measure perovskite based electrode thin films, 3) a set-up that allows to measure the incident photon to current efficiency of our ceramic PEC electrodes; latter one is being operated now by our new SNF PhD student.

For the spatially resolving spectrograph we are currently looking for a confocal microscope to make it ready to characterize solar cells at the device level.

The gas chromatograph is used to help study the decomposition (or stability!) of organics on photocatalysts. We are currently exploring the possibilities to use that GC also for anode chemistry studies on our ceramic fuel cells.