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Titanium Oxide Tubular Architectures for Enhanced Solar-to-Fuel Conversion

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Nageh Allam
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Menna Tullah Kamel
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Provisional Patent Application Filed
Sub-100 nm TiO2 tubular architectures for efficient solar energy conversion
Journal of Materials Chemistry A , Issue 24, Published online 16 May 2016
Clean fuel, smart devices thanks to versatile nanotubes
Nature Middle East, Published online 4 June 2016


Sub-100 nm Titanium Oxide tubular architectures to be used in Dye Synthesized Solar Cells (DSSCs), MOSFETS, Water Splitting photo-electrochemical cells, Catalysis, Water Purification, Self-cleaning, Anti-microbial, Electrochromics, and Water desalination and purification.


Current conventional methods for synthesis processes face limitations such as poor control over the size and shape of the structures, reproducibility issues, and running cost. Of particular interest, hollow TiO2 nanoarchitectures show much promise for the design of highly active nanostructured catalysts due to their low density, high strength, high active surface area, and improved light harvesting characteristics. However, for applications such as water splitting, the small grain boundaries of the nanoparticles can be problematic as they act as recombination centers of charge carriers, resulting in short lifetime of the electrons. The nanotubular architecture with its one-dimensional structure and ordered morphology, on the other hand, offers the advantage of directed electron transport and electron/hole pair separation. However, nanotubes have lower surface area compared to nanoparticles. To have both advantages, high surface area and directional charge transfer, the nanotubular architectures need to have lengths that are close to those of the nanoparticles. Previous studies on the effect of the nanotube length on the electron transport process showed the superiority of the electron transport process within the short TiO2 nanotubes in comparison to the long ones. Over the past two decades, sub-100 nm metal oxides have been assembled in high performance field-effect transistors as a gate oxide material. However, one of the drawbacks of MOSFETs is their high manufacturing cost. Finding a facile and cost-effective way to produce sub-100 nm architectures would render those structures useful in MOSFETs applications.


Significant enhancement in the performance of solar energy conversion devices have historically been achieved through optimized device scaling. Scaling trends will be extremely difficult to maintain unless new materials and device structures are discovered. Sub-100 nm TiO2 tubular architectures with dominant {001} facets were synthesized, for the first time, via galvanostatic anodization. The fabricated nanotubes are partially crystalline with high photoactivity towards water splitting and solar-to-electric conversion. Mott–Schottky, transient photocurrent and incident photon-to-current efficiency (IPCE) analyses indicate faster electron transfer at the nanotubes/electrolyte interface. The sub-100 nm tubes showed a maximum conversion efficiency of 9.3% upon their use in dye-sensitized solar cell devices. The concept of short nanotubes should be useful for the future use of the material in various applications.


It offers cheap, facile to acquire, and clean alternatives to the current Solar-to-Fuel conversion systems.

Stage of Development

  • Sub-100 nm TiO2 hollow nanotubes were fabricated and assembled via a facile and cheap galvanostatic anodization process.

  • The fabricated nanoarchitectures were assembled as photoanodes in photoelectrochemical water splitting unit and in dye-sensitized solar cells.