A picture showing a hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite

By melting and quenching hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite compounds, scientists have created a new family of glasses that could be used in the energy sector.

Crystalline materials have drawn a lot of attention in hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite studies, so an international team of researchers switched to non-crystalline ones. Previous work reported that amorphous perovskites existed, but new work goes further in characterizing them.

The team produced three hybrid organic-inorganic perovskite compounds based on tetrapropylammonium with manganese (II), iron (II) and cobalt (II) and melted them. According to author François-Xavier Coudert of the CNRS in France, they had to set the temperature so that they had a very narrow temperature window, on average around 20 degrees, depending on the metal used – hot enough to liquefy the samples but not as hot that it decomposes them. The team measured the exact amount of heat that flowed in and out of the glasses to learn their properties and to thoroughly describe each one. “We are amalgamating a new class of materials and using a new family of glasses,” says Coudert. “I have probably never seen such well-characterized materials with so many techniques and so much information. It’s fascinating to see all of these methods together. “

“A chemist who makes something is very good, but knowing and understanding what you’ve made is even more exciting,” adds co-author Frédéric Blanc, researcher at the University of Liverpool. “This is often the greatest challenge for amorphous materials.”

A picture that shows a comparison of the physical properties of melt-hardened glasses with different materials

Given the growing interest of the energy industry in using perovskites to harness solar energy, the team compared the physical properties of the new glasses with other materials such as silicon dioxide. The new glasses have extremely low thermal conductivity and moderate electrical conductivity at room temperature and are therefore suitable for thermoelectric applications. “We are very hopeful about its industrial applications in waste heat recovery systems, power generation systems, renewable and clean energy, among others,” says first author Bikash Shaw, researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK. “We could potentially try to replace the current thermoelectric materials, which contain heavy and environmentally unsuitable elements, with our recently discovered glasses,” he adds.

Kavassery Narayan, physicist at the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, who is not involved in the study, praised the work. “The fact that they can use a metal-oxide framework based on hybrid perovskite and then make it amorphous by melting it and cooling it quickly is an important development. The vitreous nature opens up many applications in electrical and thermal conductivity. ‘

Coudert adds that it would be interesting to use this detailed knowledge of the makeup of the glasses to play around with their components. ‘Since [the glasses] are organic-inorganic hybrids, we could fine-tune the various components. With this “Lego principle” we could change the properties from material to material by changing the bricks and giving them different properties. I don’t think this is about having a material that currently surpasses everything else, but it’s more that we can see a future where things can be controlled, coordinated and improved, ”he says.

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