The University of Southampton

Research project: Bartlett: Electrodeposition in Supercritical Fluids

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Supercritical fluids offer significant potential advantages as solutions for electrodeposition - mass transport rates in the supercritical phase are high (diffusion coefficients of 10-4 cm2 s-1 or more), it is possible to have a wide potential window, deposition can take place at elevated temperature, there is no surface tension so wetting of nanostructure is not a problem, gas evolution does not cases the formation of bubbles at the growing electrode surface.

Project Overview

Nevertheless there are significant problems to overcome: supercritical fluids generally have low dielectric constants so dissolving the electrolyte to achieve sufficient conductivity is a problem, the reactions need to be carried out in sealed pressure vessels, and design of reference electrodes can all be difficult.

Pressure cell
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As part of a large Basic Technology project funded by RCUK we are working in collaboration with colleagues in Southampton, Nottingham and Manchester on electrodeposition of metals and semiconductors from supercritical fluids for nanomaterial deposition. The project involves the synthesis of novel electrolytes, measurement of the phase behaviour of supercritical electrolyte solutions, measurement of electrolyte conductivity and studies of electrochemistry in these solutions. Details of the wider aspects of the project are on the website.

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