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Yang Liu

Fellowship Doctoral Student
China Scholarship Council
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)
Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials



  • Crystallographically Textured Nanomaterials Produced from the Liquid Phase Sintering of BixSb2-xTe3 Nanocrystal Building Blocks

    Liu Y., Zhang Y., Ortega S., Ibáñez M., Lim K.H., Grau-Carbonell A., Martí-Sánchez S., Ng K.M., Arbiol J., Kovalenko M.V., Cadavid D., Cabot A. Nano Letters; 18 (4): 2557 - 2563. 2018. 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b00263.

    Bottom-up approaches for producing bulk nanomaterials have traditionally lacked control over the crystallographic alignment of nanograins. This limitation has prevented nanocrystal-based nanomaterials from achieving optimized performances in numerous applications. Here we demonstrate the production of nanostructured BixSb2-xTe3 alloys with controlled stoichiometry and crystallographic texture through proper selection of the starting building blocks and the adjustment of the nanocrystal-to-nanomaterial consolidation process. In particular, we hot pressed disk-shaped BixSb2-xTe3 nanocrystals and tellurium nanowires using multiple pressure and release steps at a temperature above the tellurium melting point. We explain the formation of the textured nanomaterials though a solution-reprecipitation mechanism under a uniaxial pressure. Additionally, we further demonstrate these alloys to reach unprecedented thermoelectric figures of merit, up to ZT = 1.96 at 420 K, with an average value of ZTave = 1.77 for the record material in the temperature range 320-500 K, thus potentially allowing up to 60% higher energy conversion efficiencies than commercial materials. © 2018 American Chemical Society.


  • Solution-based synthesis and processing of Sn- and Bi-doped Cu3SbSe4 nanocrystals, nanomaterials and ring-shaped thermoelectric generators

    Liu Y., García G., Ortega S., Cadavid D., Palacios P., Lu J., Ibáñez M., Xi L., De Roo J., López A.M., Martí-Sánchez S., Cabezas I., Mata M.D.L., Luo Z., Dun C., Dobrozhan O., Carroll D.L., Zhang W., Martins J., Kovalenko M.V., Arbiol J., Noriega G., Song J., Wahnón P., Cabot A. Journal of Materials Chemistry A; 5 (6): 2592 - 2602. 2017. 10.1039/c6ta08467b. IF: 8.867

    Copper-based chalcogenides that comprise abundant, low-cost, and environmental friendly elements are excellent materials for a number of energy conversion applications, including photovoltaics, photocatalysis, and thermoelectrics (TE). In such applications, the use of solution-processed nanocrystals (NCs) to produce thin films or bulk nanomaterials has associated several potential advantages, such as high material yield and throughput, and composition control with unmatched spatial resolution and cost. Here we report on the production of Cu3SbSe4 (CASe) NCs with tuned amounts of Sn and Bi dopants. After proper ligand removal, as monitored by nuclear magnetic resonance and infrared spectroscopy, these NCs were used to produce dense CASe bulk nanomaterials for solid state TE energy conversion. By adjusting the amount of extrinsic dopants, dimensionless TE figures of merit (ZT) up to 1.26 at 673 K were reached. Such high ZT values are related to an optimized carrier concentration by Sn doping, a minimized lattice thermal conductivity due to efficient phonon scattering at point defects and grain boundaries, and to an increase of the Seebeck coefficient obtained by a modification of the electronic band structure with Bi doping. Nanomaterials were further employed to fabricate ring-shaped TE generators to be coupled to hot pipes, which provided 20 mV and 1 mW per TE element when exposed to a 160 °C temperature gradient. The simple design and good thermal contact associated with the ring geometry and the potential low cost of the material solution processing may allow the fabrication of TE generators with short payback times. © The Royal Society of Chemistry.


  • High-performance thermoelectric nanocomposites from nanocrystal building blocks

    Ibáñez M., Luo Z., Genç A., Piveteau L., Ortega S., Cadavid D., Dobrozhan O., Liu Y., Nachtegaal M., Zebarjadi M., Arbiol J., Kovalenko M.V., Cabot A. Nature Communications; 7 ( 10766) 2016. 10.1038/ncomms10766. IF: 11.329

    The efficient conversion between thermal and electrical energy by means of durable, silent and scalable solid-state thermoelectric devices has been a long standing goal. While nanocrystalline materials have already led to substantially higher thermoelectric efficiencies, further improvements are expected to arise from precise chemical engineering of nanoscale building blocks and interfaces. Here we present a simple and versatile bottom-up strategy based on the assembly of colloidal nanocrystals to produce consolidated yet nanostructured thermoelectric materials. In the case study on the PbS-Ag system, Ag nanodomains not only contribute to block phonon propagation, but also provide electrons to the PbS host semiconductor and reduce the PbS intergrain energy barriers for charge transport. Thus, PbS-Ag nanocomposites exhibit reduced thermal conductivities and higher charge carrier concentrations and mobilities than PbS nanomaterial. Such improvements of the material transport properties provide thermoelectric figures of merit up to 1.7 at 850 K.

  • Mn3O4@CoMn2O4-CoxOy Nanoparticles: Partial Cation Exchange Synthesis and Electrocatalytic Properties toward the Oxygen Reduction and Evolution Reactions

    Luo Z., Irtem E., Ibánez M., Nafria R., Martĺ-Sánchez S., Genç A., De La Mata M., Liu Y., Cadavid D., Llorca J., Arbiol J., Andreu T., Morante J.R., Cabot A. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces; 8 (27): 17435 - 17444. 2016. 10.1021/acsami.6b02786. IF: 7.145

    Mn3O4@CoMn2O4 nanoparticles (NPs) were produced at low temperature and ambient atmosphere using a one-pot two-step synthesis protocol involving the cation exchange of Mn by Co in preformed Mn3O4 NPs. Selecting the proper cobalt precursor, the nucleation of CoxOy crystallites at the Mn3O4@CoMn2O4 surface could be simultaneously promoted to form Mn3O4@CoMn2O4-CoxOy NPs. Such heterostructured NPs were investigated for oxygen reduction and evolution reactions (ORR, OER) in alkaline solution. Mn3O4@CoMn2O4-CoxOy NPs with [Co]/[Mn] = 1 showed low overpotentials of 0.31 V at -3 mA·cm-2 and a small Tafel slope of 52 mV·dec-1 for ORR, and overpotentials of 0.31 V at 10 mA·cm-2 and a Tafel slope of 81 mV·dec-1 for OER, thus outperforming commercial Pt-, IrO2-based and previously reported transition metal oxides. This cation-exchange-based synthesis protocol opens up a new approach to design novel heterostructured NPs as efficient nonprecious metal bifunctional oxygen catalysts. © 2016 American Chemical Society.

  • Thermoelectric properties of semiconductor-metal composites produced by particle blending

    Liu Y., Cadavid D., Ibáñez M., Ortega S., Martí-Sánchez S., Dobrozhan O., Kovalenko M.V., Arbiol J., Cabot A. APL Materials; 4 (10, 104813) 2016. 10.1063/1.4961679. IF: 4.323

    In the quest for more efficient thermoelectric material able to convert thermal to electrical energy and vice versa, composites that combine a semiconductor host having a large Seebeck coefficient with metal nanodomains that provide phonon scattering and free charge carriers are particularly appealing. Here, we present our experimental results on the thermal and electrical transport properties of PbS-metal composites produced by a versatile particle blending procedure, and where the metal work function allows injecting electrons to the intrinsic PbS host. We compare the thermoelectric performance of composites with microcrystalline or nanocrystalline structures. The electrical conductivity of the microcrystalline host can be increased several orders of magnitude with the metal inclusion, while relatively high Seebeck coefficient can be simultaneously conserved. On the other hand, in nanostructured materials, the host crystallites are not able to sustain a band bending at its interface with the metal, becoming flooded with electrons. This translates into even higher electrical conductivities than the microcrystalline material, but at the expense of lower Seebeck coefficient values. © 2016 Author(s).


  • Strain-induced spatially indirect exciton recombination in zinc-blende/wurtzite CdS heterostructures

    Li D., Liu Y., de la Mata M., Magen C., Arbiol J., Feng Y., Xiong Q. Nano Research; 8 (9): 3035 - 3044. 2015. 10.1007/s12274-015-0809-8. IF: 7.010

    Strain engineering provides an effective mean of tuning the fundamental properties of semiconductors for electric and optoelectronic applications. Here we report on how the applied strain changes the emission properties of hetero-structures consisting of different crystalline phases in the same CdS nanobelts. The strained portion was found to produce an additional emission peak on the low-energy side that was blueshifted with increasing strain. Furthermore, the additional emission peak obeyed the Varshni equation with temperature and exhibited the band-filling effect at high excitation power. This new emission peak may be attributed to spatially indirect exciton recombination between different crystalline phases of CdS. First-principles calculations were performed based on the spatially indirect exciton recombination, and the calculated and experimental results agreed with one another. Strain proved to be capable of enhancing the anti-Stokes emission, suggesting that the efficiency of laser cooling may be improved by strain engineering. [Figure not available: see fulltext.] © 2015, Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Manganese 3×3 and √3×√3-R30 â̂̃ structures and structural phase transition on w-GaN(0001̄) studied by scanning tunneling microscopy and first-principles theory

    Chinchore A.V., Wang K., Shi M., Mandru A., Liu Y., Haider M., Smith A.R., Ferrari V., Barral M.A., Ordejón P. Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics; 87 (16, 165426) 2013. 10.1103/PhysRevB.87.165426.

    Manganese deposited on the N-polar face of wurtzite gallium nitride [GaN (0001̄)] results in two unique surface reconstructions, depending on the deposition temperature. At lower temperature (less than 105 â̂̃C), it is found that a metastable 3×3 structure forms. Mild annealing of this Mn 3×3 structure leads to an irreversible phase transition to a different, much more stable √3×√3-R30â̂̃ structure which can withstand high-temperature annealing. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and reflection high-energy electron diffraction data are compared with results from first-principles theoretical calculations. Theory finds a lowest-energy model for the 3×3 structure consisting of Mn trimers bonded to the Ga adlayer atoms but not with N atoms. The lowest-energy model for the more stable √3×√3-R30â̂̃ structure involves Mn atoms substituting for Ga within the Ga adlayer and thus bonding with N atoms. Tersoff-Hamman simulations of the resulting lowest-energy structural models are found to be in very good agreement with the experimental STM images. © 2013 American Physical Society.