3D nanorhombus nickel nitride as stable and cost-effective counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells and supercapacitor applications
Transition metal nitride based materials have attracted significant interest owing to their excellent properties and multiple applications in the field of electrochemical energy conversion and storage devices. Herein we synthesize 3D nanorhombus nickel nitride (Ni3N) thin films by adopting a reactive radio frequency magnetron sputtering process. The as-deposited 3D nano rhombus Ni3N thin films were utilized as cost-effective electrodes in the fabrication of supercapacitors (SCs) and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs). The structure, phase formation, surface morphology and elemental composition of the as-deposited Ni3N thin films were characterized by X-ray diffraction (XRD), field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The electrochemical supercapacitive performance of the Ni3N thin films was examined by cyclic voltammetry (CV) and galvanostatic charge–discharge (GCD) techniques, in 3 M KOH supporting electrolyte. The areal capacitance of the Ni3N thin film electrode obtained from CV analysis was 319.5 mF cm−2 at a lower scan rate of 10 mV s−1. Meanwhile, the Ni3N thin film showed an excellent cyclic stability and retained 93.7% efficiency of its initial capacitance after 2000 cycles at 100 mV s−1. Interestingly, the DSSCs fabricated with a Ni3N CE showed a notable power energy conversion efficiency of 2.88% and remarkable stability. The prominent performance of the Ni3N thin film was ascribed mainly due to good conductivity, high electrochemically active sites with excellent 3D nano rhombus structures and high electrocatalytic activity. Overall, these results demonstrate that the Ni3N electrode is capable of being considered for efficient SCs and DSSCs. This investigation also offers an essential directive for the advancement of energy storage and conversion devices.