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AFM for Solar Fuels Research: Surface Imaging of Charge Transfer on Photocatalysts

This webinar is cohosted with Prof. Fengtao Fan from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who pioneered spatially-resolved surface photovoltage microscopy for solar fuels research using the open-stage flexibility of the Dimension AFM platform.

In this joint webinar, Dr. Teddy Huang from Bruker will first review recent AFM applications for solar fuels research (converting sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into hydrogen and liquid fuels), covering the intrinsic challenges resulting from both the complexity of materials/device characterization and the limitation from general small-sample AFMs, and introducing the recent progress in finding solutions.

In the main part of the webinar, Prof. Fengtao Fan will introduce spatially-resolved surface photovoltage (SPV) microscopy, a five-year technical and applications development in his lab based on a Bruker Dimension Icon AFM. This KPFM-based SPV technique has been used for imaging the transfer dynamics of photocarriers generated by absorbing sunlight, providing fundamental insights and practical guidelines for device designs. Prof Fan will take the popular semiconductor metal oxide photoanodes BiVO4 and TiO2 as examples to demonstrate recent important applications of the SPV microscopic technique in advancing solar fuels research.

Figure 1: Experimental setup for spatially-resolved surface photovoltage imaging and results showing distribution of photogenerated electrons and holes on a single catalytic cyrstal.

Key Topics

  • Energy research: conversion of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into hydrogen or liquid fuels.
  • Spatially-resolved surface photovoltage microscopy to image surface photo-induced charge transfer dynamics for providing guidelines in designing efficient solar fuel generating devices.
  • Open architecture AFM platform to flexibly host external adds on hardware features to address complicate application needs.


Dr. Teddy Huang

Staff Development Applications Scientist, Bruker Nano Surfaces

Dr. Huang obtained his PhD degree in physical chemistry from Emory University in 2012. After graduation, he worked for Prof. Nathan Lewis at Caltech as a postdoctoral scholar, where he investigated the semiconductor/metal interfacial structure using AFM nanoelectric measurements. He joined in Bruker in 2014 and now leads the team for development of AFM-based electrical and electrochemical applications. As of today, he has published 43 peer-reviewed articles with more than 2300 citations and an H-index of 22.

Prof. Fengtao Fan

Group Leader, Solar Energy Research Division, and Vice Director of State Key Laboratory of Catalysis in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Prof. Fengtao Fan is the group leader in the Solar Energy Research Division and the vice director of State Key Laboratory of Catalysis in Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he received his PhD degree in Physical Chemistry in 2010. His research interests include operando spectroscopy, photoelectrical imaging spectroscopy, and development of Deep Ocean UV Raman spectrograph.