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Podjaski, Filip; Kroeger, Julia; Lotsch, Bettina. V. (2018): Toward an Aqueous Solar Battery: Direct Electrochemical Storage of Solar Energy in Carbon Nitrides. In: Advanced Materials, Vol. 30, No. 9, 1705477
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Abstract

Graphitic carbon nitrides have emerged as an earth-abundant family of polymeric materials for solar energy conversion. Herein, a 2D cyanamide-functionalized polyheptazine imide (NCN-PHI) is reported, which for the first time enables the synergistic coupling of two key functions of energy conversion within one single material: light harvesting and electrical energy storage. Photo-electrochemical measurements in aqueous electrolytes reveal the underlying mechanism of this solar battery material: the charge storage in NCN-PHI is based on the photoreduction of the carbon nitride backbone and charge compensation is realized by adsorption of alkali metal ions within the NCN-PHI layers and at the solution interface. The photoreduced carbon nitride can thus be described as a battery anode operating as a pseudocapacitor, which can store light-induced charge in the form of long-lived, trapped electrons for hours. Importantly, the potential window of this process is not limited by the water reduction reaction due to the high intrinsic overpotential of carbon nitrides for hydrogen evolution, potentially enabling new applications for aqueous batteries. Thus, the feasibility of light-induced electrical energy storage and release on demand by a one-component light-charged battery anode is demonstrated, which provides a sustainable solution to overcome the intermittency of solar radiation.