Closed-loop Design of Heterostructures for Solar Energy Conversion

The development of efficient solar energy conversion is one of the 
grand challenges of our time. Water splitting, or the disproportionation 
of  H2O  into  energy-dense  fuels,  H2 and  O2,  is  undoubtedly  a 
promising  strategy.  We  have  used  a  closed-loop  materials  design 
process  to  develop  a  new  class  of  nanoscale  heterostructures 
comprising  MxV2O5  nanowires,  where  M  is  a  p-block  cation 
characterized  by  a  stereoactive  lone  pair  of  electrons  and  x  is  its 
stoichiometry,  interfaced  with  II−VI  semiconductor  quantum  dots 
(QDs). Our signature theoretical design and experimental realization 
of SnxV2O5 as a hole acceptor mitigates the longstanding problem of 
photocorrosion  of  quantum  dots  and  provides  a  powerful 
demonstration of using mid-gap states derived from lone-pairs of p-
block cations as acceptors of photogenerated holes.