The combination of the ability to absorb most of the solar radiation and simultaneously suppress infrared re-radiation allows selective solar absorbers (SSAs) to maximize solar energy to heat conversion, which is critical to several advanced applications. The intrinsic spectral selective materials are rare in nature and only a few demonstrated complete solar absorption. Typically, intrinsic materials exhibit high performances when integrated into complex multilayered solar absorber systems due to their limited spectral selectivity and solar absorption. In this study, we propose CoSbx (2 < x < 3) as a new exceptionally efficient SSA. Here we demonstrate that the low bandgap nature of CoSbx endows broadband solar absorption (0.96) over the solar spectral range and simultaneous low emissivity (0.18) in the mid-infrared region, resulting in a remarkable intrinsic spectral solar selectivity of 5.3. Under 1 sun illumination, the heat concentrates on the surface of the CoSbx thin film, and an impressive temperature of 101.7 °C is reached, demonstrating the highest value among reported intrinsic SSAs. Furthermore, the CoSbx was tested for solar water evaporation achieving an evaporation rate of 1.4 kg m−2 h−1. This study could expand the use of narrow bandgap semiconductors as efficient intrinsic SSAs with high surface temperatures in solar applications.
Magnesium chloride is a prototypical deliquescent material whose surface properties, although central for Ziegler–Natta cataysis, have so far remained elusive to experimental characterization. In this work, we use surface-selective X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) at ambient pressure in combination with multivariate curve resolution, molecular dynamics, and XAS theoretical methods to track in real time and accurately describe the interaction between water vapor and the MgCl2 surface. By exposing MgCl2 to water vapor at temperatures between 595 and 391 K, we show that water is preferentially adsorbed on five-coordinated Mg2+ sites in an octahedral configuration, confirming previous theoretical predictions, and find that MgCl2 is capable of retaining a significant amount of adsorbed water even under prolonged heating to 595 K. As a consequence, our work provides first experimental insights into the unique surface affinity of MgCl2 for atmospheric water. The developed technique is proven highly sensitive to the modifications induced by adsorbates on a given low-Z metal based surface and may be useful in the toolbox required to disentangle the mechanisms of interfacial chemical processes.
Interfaces between water and materials are ubiquitous and are crucial in materials sciences and in biology, where investigating the interaction of water with the surface under ambient conditions is key to shedding light on the main processes occurring at the interface. Magnesium oxide is a popular model system to study the metal oxide–water interface, where, for sufficient water loadings, theoretical models have suggested that reconstructed surfaces involving hydrated Mg2+ metal ions may be energetically favored. In this work, by combining experimental and theoretical surface-selective ambient pressure X-ray absorption spectroscopy with multivariate curve resolution and molecular dynamics, we evidence in real time the occurrence of Mg2+ solvation at the interphase between MgO and solvating media such as water and methanol (MeOH). Further, we show that the Mg2+ surface ions undergo a reversible solvation process, we prove the dissolution/redeposition of the Mg2+ ions belonging to the MgO surface, and we demonstrate the formation of octahedral [Mg(H2O)6]2+ and [Mg(MeOH)6]2+ intermediate solvated species. The unique surface, electronic, and structural sensitivity of the developed technique may be beneficial to access often elusive properties of low-Z metal ion intermediates involved in interfacial processes of chemical and biological interest.
This work presents an original approach to preparing pure and Ni-doped CeO2 nanoparticles (NPs) that can be directly drop-casted on a substrate or calcined to form powders. The reduction of the NPs in H2 is very different than the one usually anticipated for supported Ni–CeO2 catalysts. In situ soft X-ray absorption and infrared spectroscopies revealed that the reduction of Ce4+ into Ce3+ in H2 proceeds via simultaneous oxidation of Ni2+ ions into Niδ+ (2<δ<3). Comparison with reference samples indicates that Ce4+ ions reduction is promoted over Ni-doped CeO2 NPs, whereas that of Ni2+ is hindered. Theoretical simulation of Ni L-edge spectra suggested that Ni dopant into ceria is in a square planar four-coordinate environment, in contrast to the familiar octahedral symmetry of bulk nickel oxides. Our results reveal that the surface chemistry of Ni-doped CeO2 is quite distinct as compared to that of the individual bulk oxides, which potentially can lead to a different performance of this material, notably in catalytic applications.