Solar Fuels

Solar Fuels

Details

Solar-thermal conversion, in which photothermal materials are employed to harvest sunlight and convert it to heat as terminal energy for beneficial usage, has recently gained renewed research interest due to its extremely high-energy efficiency. The goal of this new seed project is to develop flexible and mechanically strong polymer-based photothermal materials with high energy conversion efficiency toward practical application especially photothermal water desalination. Two separate approaches will be explored:
  1. Embedding lost-cost carbon-based photothermal materials (e.g., carbon black, carbon nanotubes, graphene) into an inactive polymeric matrix. The polymeric materials are expected to be stable in water under solar irradiation and their refractive index should be between water and these active inorganic materials so that no light reflection loss will occur.
  2. All-polymeric photothermal materials. In this approach, we will explore a variety of conductive polymers and semi-conductive polymers with narrow band gaps with a clear aim to identify the ones with high water and light stability as well as high energy conversion efficiency.  Electrospinning will be employed to make polymeric fibers in both cases, which will be packaged along with heat barrier into all-in-one devices for performance investigation. 

Collaborators

PI: Peng Wang, Frederic Laquai