A study by researchers at the University of Oregon states that an atomic microscope with an electrode at its tip can provide a qualitative answer on how nanoscale catalysts collect the charge. This study can help researchers to develop better semiconductors to improve the performance of solar devices. With the help of this research, scientists unveil that the catalytic particle shrinks to the size below 100 nanometers. This, as a result, makes the positive charge more efficient which prevents electron to re-enter the reaction and slow it down. Consequent to this process, the researchers were able to improve the overall efficiency of the system.
According to Shannon W. Boettcher, the results of the study can open the doors for improving the efficiency of chemical and fuel manufacturing. The new results can have a significant application in enhancing the production of hydrogen gas while splitting the water molecule.
How Researchers Were Able to Measure the Accuracy of the System?
According to Shannon W. Boettcher, it was essential to design a principle model to make the catalytic particle to shrink that much. It was necessary because of the physics that plays its part at the interface. This as a result enhances the efficiency of the system. With this technique, researchers were able to monitor the flow of charged particles with a nanometer-scale resolution.
During the experiment, Boettcher’s team used a model that had a well-organized single-crystal silicon wafer. The wafer has nickel coating with nanoparticles of variable size. In this arrangement, the silicon was to allow the flow of electrons and nickel nanoparticles were the catalysts. The positive charges are selectively collected by nickel particles which in turn speeds up the reaction.
To measure the average voltage that at each hole of the catalysts, researchers used an atomic microscope by Bruker Nano Surfaces, that measures that potential difference at each hole of the catalyst by tapping on them.