This Perspective reviews recent developments in experimental techniques and conceptual methods applied to the electrochemical properties of metal-oxide semiconductor nanostructures and organic conductors, such as those used in dye-sensitized solar cells, high-energy batteries, sensors, and electrochromic devices. The aim is to provide a broad view of the interpretation of electrochemical and optoelectrical measurements for semiconductor nanostructures (sintered colloidal particles, nanorods, arrays of quantum dots, etc.) deposited or grown on a conducting substrate. The Fermi level displacement by potentiostatic control causes a broad change of physical properties such as the hopping conductivity, that can be investigated over a very large variation of electron density. In contrast to traditional electrochemistry, we emphasize that in nanostructured devices we must deal with systems that depart heavily from the ideal, Maxwell–Boltzmann statistics, due to broad distributions of states (energy disorder) and interactions of charge carriers, therefore the electrochemical analysis must be aided by thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. We discuss in detail the most characteristic densities of states, the chemical capacitance, and the transport properties, specially the chemical diffusion coefficient, mobility, and generalized Einstein relation.
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Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics
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