Site-Selective Passivation of Defects in NiO Solar Photocathodes by Targeted Atomic Deposition

Arthur Nozik, Cory Flynn, Shannon McCullough, EunBi Oh, Lesheng Li, Candy Mercado, Byron Farnum, Wentao Li, Carrie Donley, Wei You, James McBride, Thomas Meyer, Yosuke Kanai, James Cahoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus Citations


For nanomaterials, surface chemistry can dictate fundamental material properties, including charge-carrier lifetimes, doping levels, and electrical mobilities. In devices, surface defects are usually the key limiting factor for performance, particularly in solar-energy applications. Here, we develop a strategy to uniformly and selectively passivate defect sites in semiconductor nanomaterials using a vapor-phase process termed targeted atomic deposition (TAD). Because defects often consist of atomic vacancies and dangling bonds with heightened reactivity, we observe-for the widely used p-type cathode nickel oxide-that a volatile precursor such as trimethylaluminum can undergo a kinetically limited selective reaction with these sites. The TAD process eliminates all measurable defects in NiO, leading to a nearly 3-fold improvement in the performance of dye-sensitized solar cells. Our results suggest that TAD could be implemented with a range of vapor-phase precursors and be developed into a general strategy to passivate defects in zero-, one-, and two-dimensional nanomaterials.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4754-4761
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number7
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-66032


  • atomic layer deposition
  • DFT+U calculations
  • dye-sensitized solar cell
  • nickel oxide
  • p-type metal oxide


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