Atomic Layer Deposition of NbC-Al2O3 Composite Films for Efficient Solar Selective Coatings

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 14:20
Chesapeake L (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
J. R. Avila (Argonne National Laboratory), A. Peters (Northwestern University), A. U. Mane, J. A. Libera, A. Yanguas-Gil (Argonne National Laboratory), O. Farha, J. T. Hupp (Northwestern University), and J. W. Elam (Joint Center for Energy Storage Research)
Solar selective films hold great promise for improving the efficiency of concentrated solar power (CSP) facilities. In this study, we used atomic layer deposition (ALD) to prepare solar selective films composed of metal-dielectric nanocomposites with tunable optical and electronic properties. We used niobium carbide (NbC) as the metallic component and Al2O3 as the dielectric component of the nanocomposite films, and these components were blended at the atomic scale by alternating between the NbC and Al2O3 ALD processes. In-situ quadrupole mass spectrometry and quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) measurements were performed to examine the growth of the NbC-AlO composite films as well as to establish the NbC ALD growth mechanism. These measurements revealed that the NbC inhibited the Al2O3 ALD, while the Al2O3 enhanced the NbC ALD. Next, NbC-AlO nanocomposite films wereprepared over the full range of 0-100% NbC in Al2O3 and the physical, optical and electrical properties were measured. We discovered that the band gap and electrical resistivity could be precisely tuned by controlling the composition, and that higher NbC contents yielded a lower band gap and a smaller resistivity. Based on the absorption spectra of the NbC-AlO composite films, we established that 10-20% NbC yield the highest selective absorption efficiencies due their high visible light absorption and low infrared absorption. However, the selective absorption properties of the NbC-AlO composite films were lost upon annealing to 400°C in air as a result of oxidation of the NbC. Our study demonstrates the efficacy for ALD preparing metal-dielectric nanocomposite films with tunable properties to achieve a high selective absorber efficiency. By applying this technique to more thermally robust metallic materials we hope to produce solar selective coatings suitable for deployment in CSP facilities.