Photo by Andreas Gücklhorn on Unsplash
In the recent paper: “Strongly enhanced and tunable photovoltaic effect in ferroelectric-paraelectric superlattices (Jun 2021)”, researchers found a way to engineer a superlattice of ferroelectric BaTiO3 sandwiched between paraelectric SrTiO3 and CaTiO3 resulting in 1000 times higher photovoltaic (PV) effect than measured in regular BaTiO3 of a similar thickness. The result is intriguing since neither SrTiO3 nor CaTiO3 has a PV effect, except for SrTiO3 under extremely large strain gradients.
The PV effect is what is used in solar cells to create electricity from the sunlight. Whether a material is paraelectric or ferroelectric has to do with its polarization curve.
Furthermore, the paper investigates the PV effect across different temperatures and over long time periods. It shows a persistent enhancement over these variations and thereby robustness. Perhaps this technique can be used for creating more efficient solar cells in the future and contribute to a greener energy grid.
The paper, including a STEM image of the structure, can be found here:
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