Nitride materials: In the “bond ionicity Goldilocks zone” for solar energy

April 3rd, 2023

R&D Focus Areas:
Photochemical and photocatalytic processes, Nanomaterials, Computational modelling

Lead Organisation:
University of New South Wales (Sydney)

Not applicable


Start date:
May 2023

Completion date:
May 2026

Key contacts:
Lead Investigator: Martin Green –
Dr Mahesh Suryawanshi –
Associate Professor Judy Hart –
Dr Robert Patterson –

AUD$326,000 – Australian Research Council (DP230101676)

Project total cost:
AUD$925,259 – combined cash and in-kind contribution

Project summary description:
Progress towards commercial devices for solar-driven hydrogen generation as well as in-situ electricity generation for vehicles is currently hampered by a lack of earth-abundant, stable, non-toxic semiconductor materials that can be fabricated by scalable methods.

This project aims to develop the first scalable solution synthesis methods for a new class of earth-abundant Zn-based nitride semiconductor nanocrystals that have favourable bond ionicity and establish their optoelectronic properties for renewable energy devices for the first time.

Flexible solution processing methods will be developed and exploited to tune both bulk and surface composition, control defects and ultimately create devices based on these challenging new nitride material systems. Optimisation of the materials and hence device performance will be guided by a combination of computational analysis and multiscale characterisation.

The new semiconductors to be developed by the project will have band gaps in the range of 1.2-1.9 eV, a useful range for both thin film photovoltaics and photo-electro-chemical hydrogen generation. Both binary and ternary nitride compounds will be explored and developed.

The project aims to assess both surface and bulk crystalline/electronic defects that impact device performance. Methods by which defects can be controlled and manipulated, e.g. eliminated by passivation, will be developed to optimise these new semiconductors for water splitting and photovoltaic applications.

Related publications and key links:
None at this time.

Higher degree studies supported:
Three PhD students at the University of New South Wales (Sydney) will be supported by this project.


April 2023