Linear topology in amorphous metal oxide electrochromic networks obtained via low-temperature solution processing.

by Llordes, A; Wang, Y; Fernandez-Martinez, A; Xiao, P; Lee, T; Poulain, A; Zandi, O; Saez Cabezas, CA; Henkelman, G; Milliron, DJ

Nature Materials, 2016 Aug 22. doi: 10.1038/nmat4734. [Epub ahead of print]

Amorphous transition metal oxides are recognized as leading candidates for electrochromic window coatings that can dynamically modulate solar irradiation and improve building energy efficiency. However, their thin films are normally prepared by energy-intensive sputtering techniques or high-temperature solution methods, which increase manufacturing cost and complexity. Here, we report on a room-temperature solution process to fabricate electrochromic films of niobium oxide glass (NbOx) and ‘nanocrystal-in-glass’ composites (that is, tin-doped indium oxide (ITO) nanocrystals embedded in NbOx glass) via acid-catalysed condensation of polyniobate clusters. A combination of X-ray scattering and spectroscopic characterization with complementary simulations reveals that this strategy leads to a unique one-dimensional chain-like NbOx structure, which significantly enhances the electrochromic performance, compared to a typical three-dimensional NbOx network obtained from conventional high-temperature thermal processing. In addition, we show how self-assembled ITO-in-NbOx composite films can be successfully integrated into high-performance flexible electrochromic devices.

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