Research Projects

Priyanka Ganguly

Graduated 2021

Ternary chalcogenides and its composites with titanium dioxide for photocatalytic applications.

Rapid depletion and ever-increasing demand for fossil fuels have posed some grave challenges. Rising global temperature and population are the key elements of concern to energy shortage and environmental pollution. Heterogeneous photocatalysis, in the past decade, has deemed to be an effective route for producing greener energy and environmental remediation. Inorganic or organic semiconductors, metal complexes, biomolecules and supramolecular complexes are some of the various class of nanomaterials that act as potential solar harvesting centres.

Semiconductor nanomaterials display different characteristic absorptions in an electromagnetic spectrum. Continuous absorption in the ultraviolet region, visible and some instances of the near-infrared region. TiO2 is a semiconductor metal oxide that has received enormous attention in the last three decades because of its large band gap energy, chemical stability, low toxicity, and the photocatalytic activity. This has resulted in its use in wide varieties of applications in the cosmetic industry, textile industry, paint pigments, batteries and in catalysis. The anatase phase of TiO2, although having the enhanced photo-catalytically active phase amongst its other structural peers suffers several disadvantages. The larger band gap energy and low visible light utilisation which results in faster exciton recombination. Thus, to improve the photocatalytic efficiency of TiO2, there are several methods employed such as doping with metal and non-metal atoms, making heterostructure composites with several other semiconductor nanomaterials (ZnO, V2O5, and WO3 etc.), morphological alterations by synthesising nanotubes and nanosheets, the introduction of voids by creating different types of cationic and anionic vacancies.

The introduction of any kind of structural and chemical changes in the structure of the titania results in enhanced visible light absorption delayed charge carrier recombination and efficient increase in photocatalytic applications.

Meanwhile, Ternary chalcogenides (TC) are a fascinating class of semiconductor nanomaterials with narrow band gaps suitable with light-harvesting ability in the entire domain of visible and small region of infrared band of the electromagnetic spectrum. These nanocrystals are used at present in various applications such as in photovoltaics, photodetectors, light-emitting diodes, sensors etc. TCs with remarkably visible light absorption is identified as an ideal candidate to form heterostructure with classical semiconductors. The use of these multicomponent elemental compounds as potential materials for heterojunction formation with traditional semiconductor nanomaterials such as metal oxides and other two-dimensional nanomaterials is relatively new. The narrow band gap of these compounds with a combination of wide band gap semiconductors has resulted in efficient heterostructures for multifunctional applications.

As a PhD researcher in the PEM centre, Priyanka Ganguly is working on synthesis and characterisation of 2-D nanomaterials, ternary chalcogenides and several metal oxides for various energy and environmental applications. She is been working at Institute of Technology Sligo, since 2017, with Prof. Suresh C Pillai and Dr Ailish Breen on the project ‘Ternary chalcogenides and its composites with titanium dioxide for photocatalytic applications’.

Priyanka’s research interest involves;

  • Synthesis and characterisations of various 2D nanostructures such as graphene, MoS2, Boron Nitride, MXenes.

  • Synthesis and characterisations of metallic (Au/Ag/Cu) and metal oxide (TiO2/ZnO) nanoparticles.

  • Study of these nanomaterials for photocatalytic applications such as degradation of organic pollutants, hydrogen generation and antimicrobial disinfection.

  • Study of these nanomaterials for energy applications (battery materials and for flexible supercapacitors).

  • Cytotoxicological assessment of these nanomaterials.

Before joining IT Sligo, Priyanka completed her Masters of Technology (M.Tech) in Nanotechnology from Central University of Jharkhand, India in 2016. While studying for her master’s degree, Priyanka undertook several research projects in nanomaterial synthesis and characterization. She worked in the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), India, for almost 2 years as a M.Tech researcher.

During her time in Sligo, Priyanka has gained teaching experience working in different third-level institutions.

  • Research Assistant/Tutor for undergraduate students at Institute of Technology Sligo, Ireland. (2017-2020).

  • As an Ambassador for Royal Society of Chemistry for its “Spectroscopy in suitcase theme”.

  • Lecturer of Chemistry for undergraduate students at St. Angela’s College, Sligo, NUI Galway (2019-2020).

She has authored and co-authored more than 20 research articles and presented in several national and international conferences (6 oral and 1 poster presentation).

One of her research articles related to 2D nanomaterials for photocatalytic hydrogen generation attracted more than 8000 downloads and acquired  38 citations within a year of publication and was the most downloaded article in ACS Energy letters (

Moreover, based on her expertise in material sciences, she has been involved in the peer-reviewing process for more than 3 years for various ACS, RSC, Wiley, Springer and Elsevier journals.

Priyanka has also been selected as a Marie Curie Early Stage researcher in Bendable Electronics and Sensing Technologies (BEST) group at the University of Glasgow.

Read more about her research below;

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