Understanding an efficient light harvesting material
What is it about?
When we fill porous materials with dye molecules of the right size, we obtain useful compounds for solar energy technology. These compounds can transfer solar energy efficiently because pores and channels fit to the dyes "like a glove". In this way, molecules are forced to stay in line, and energy can easily pass from a molecule to the next one in the line. Detailed infos on the dye arrays could help further improve these materials. Unfortunately, the precise positioning of the molecules is very hard to determine. We solve this problem for a class of particularly efficient dyes filling the channels of a zeolite. Key to success is diversity: the combination of multiple techniques involving both experiments and calculations.
Why is it important?
The useful properties of these materials arise from the arrangement of dye molecules inside the porous host, which depends on the interactions among molecules and with the porous host. Thanks to this work, now we understand a little better these complex materials. Indeed, our dyes are linear, symmetric and fit exactly to the zeolite channels. Yet they adopt an asymmetric positioning to maximize the interactions with the zeolite cations, which stabilize the compound.
The following have contributed to this page: Gloria Tabacchi