Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.586, 349-361, 2021
Microwave-assisted ultrafast in-situ growth of N-doped carbon quantum dots on multiwalled carbon nanotubes as an efficient electrocatalyst for photovoltaics
Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) are at the forefront of metal-free electrocatalysts, however, the performance is still limited due to lack of functionality and dispersion. Coupling of MWCNTs with nitrogen doped carbon quantum dots (NCQDs) can impart the required active sites and dispersion. For the purpose, NCQDs are generally attached to MWCNTs by multistep processing, such as NCQDs synthesis, followed by their complex purification, surface activation, and crosslinking with MWCNT. The scalability of such a multistep process is limited, which is addressed by direct microwave-assisted growth of NCQDs on MWCNT. The concentration of reactants of NCQDs synthesis was optimized (with respect to MWCNTs), to achieve controlled direct growth of NCQDs on MWCNTs. The proposed strategy significantly reduced time and energy consumption, along with providing an overlapped interface for the fast charge transfer. Moreover, NCQDs' growth effectively modulated the surface reactivity and internal band structure of the MWCNTs. In response, dye-sensitized solar cells employing NCQDs modified MWCNT as a counter electrode showed 50% higher photovoltaic performance as compared to bare MWCNTs. (C) 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.