RU-H: “Processing of thin-film layers” (tbd)
While straightforward material synthesis and characterization is dominating the international research activities, particularly in the field of electrochemical technologies, the much more strenuous research on processing of the materials for the design of components or whole devices is very limited. This is somewhat surprising, as it is an essential factor for the overall performance of devices, often more crucial than the material itself, and essential for the development of optimized and scalable production. The target of the research unit in the context of the institute should be therefore the establishment of novel processing routes for thin-film technologies for the formation of efficient electrode structures and printable photovoltaics. A strong collaboration should be formed with the Institute for Particle Technology of the FAU on the scalable and continuous synthesis of well-defined precursor materials, for instance catalysts, polymers and other functional components. Fast and reproducible processing technologies for the formation of performance-optimized, hierarchical structures should be developed supported by the predictive theoretical tools of the modelling research unit at the HI ERN. This includes, but is not limited to the development of precursor dispersions, the development of deposition, annealing, post-treatment processes, as well as knowledge-based optimization of properties and conditions. Resulting thin-films will be characterized in collaboration with the other research units at the HI ERN regarding their nano- and mesostructure and electrochemical properties. A central aspect, as at the HI ERN in general, will be the investigation and understanding of catalyst performance in the complex environment of a whole catalyst layer. Important factors that need to be apprehended are the composition and the structure of the layer, and its interface to the photoabsorber.