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Inspired by nature: Unicellular algae turn into novel nanomaterials

DinoLight project to lay ground for mass production of nanostructured perovskites

In the last decade, metal-halide perovskites emerged as a promising group of materials for next generation technological applications. Their exceptional performance was demonstrated across multiple domains in the field of optoelectronics, such as photovoltaics, lasing and photo-electrolysis, and in the fields of energy storage and catalysis. These applications require the fine-tuning of material size, shape, composition and crystallographic properties.

In the DinoLight research project, TU Dresden scientists want to develop state-of-the-art strategies for the preparation of perovskite nanostructures. Teams from the B CUBE - Center for Molecular Bioengineering and the Faculty of Chemistry and Food Chemistry are driving this project. "Nature provides beautiful, nanostructured mineral architectures. These include some unicellular algae species, which produce highly regular nanostructured mineralized cell walls that are great templates for us," said Dr. Anne Jantschke, expert in microalgae cultivation and characterization at the Faculty of Chemistry and Food Chemistry.

"In this project we want to convert these mineral shells into highly ordered nano-porous lead-halide single-crystalline perovskite nanostructures", explains Dr. Igor Zlotnikov, research group leader at B CUBE. Although a variety of organisms are able to form such structures from different minerals, it is currently still uncertain if such three-dimensional nanostructured materials can be engineered and produced - this is where the newly launched DinoLight project comes in. The perovskites obtained are analysed with state-of-the-art materials characterization methods in the lab of Dr. Zlotnikov. The optical properties of these new nanostructured perovskites will then be assessed in the lab of Prof. Michael Schlierf, research group leader and director of B CUBE. The scientists will study if the converted nanomaterials are light emitting and, if so, explore if they can be used for solar cells, LEDs or lasers.

The project DinoLight is supported by the Free State of Saxony and aims to develop innovative, environmentally friendly materials and technologies based on naturally occurring 3D nanostructures.


Example of mineralized calcite shells of unicellular algae; detail view: nano-porous structure of the algal cell wall © Anne Jantschke

This measure is co-financed with tax revenues based on the budget agreed by the Saxon Landtag.

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