Scientific Report regarding the CECAM Workshop: “Computational insight into photo-induced processes at interfaces”


Thomas Frauenheim (University of Bremen, Germany)

Oleg Prezhdo (University of Southern California, L. A., US)

Sheng Meng (Institute of Physics, CAS Beijing, China)

Johannes Lischner (Imperial College London, UK)

Location:       University of Bremen, Germany,

10th until 14th of October 2016

1. Summary

There is enormous interest in understanding and controlling photo-induced charge transfer and chemical reactions for energy storage. These can be due either to water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction or by electron-hole pair separation at hybrid chromophore- or hybrid polymer-solid interfaces in photovoltaic devices, stimulating an increasing number of experimental and theoretical studies. Computational atomistic studies of experimental realistic setups require models that include an inorganic semiconductor nanostructure, acting as a catalyst and organic molecules in solvents. In photovoltaic applications, e.g. one has to consider multi-component systems, involving several chromophores tuned to absorb different wavelengths of light, an acceptor that removes an electron from the chromophores and creates separated electron-hole pairs, as well as electron and hole conducting media. Such models already may involve hundreds to thousands of atoms, extending far beyond the limits of any ab initio calculations. Furthermore, the non-equilibrium processes involved in the photo-induced charge separation and transport require explicit time domain modelling. Relevant processes occur on ultrafast time-scales and in most cases cannot be described by rate expressions. Charge separation, Auger-type energy exchange between electrons and holes, generation of additional charges by Auger mechanisms, energy losses to heat due to charge-phonon interactions, charge and energy transfer, and electron-hole recombination occur in parallel and competition requiring significant efforts in method development and clarification of multiple conceptual problems.
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