New method! Self-assembling nanoparticles to harvest solar energy

Inspenet, March 17, 2023

Scientists from Zhejiang University in China, led by researcher Ying Li and a team made up of scientists from the University of Harbin, the Changchun Institute of Optics and the National University of Singapore, focused on energy through renewable resources , aspire in the future to remove solar panels.

The researchers are working on solar energy through a nanoparticle mechanism, which not only exceeds the use of space occupied by solar panels, but also has the particularity of self-assembling while collecting radiation to convert it into electricity.

Solar thermal technology, in general terms, refers to the method that transforms sunlight into thermal energy (use of the solar resource to heat a liquid). The problem with this is that there was no system capable of suppressing collection while maintaining high radiation absorption.

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Image : Details of the operation of the mechanism. Credit: Zifu Xu et al.

Scientists have solved this, by making a device that executes patterns at the nanoscale, that is, “solar energy is transferred as an electromagnetic wave within a wide range of frequencies,” explains Professor Ying Li.

“A good solar thermal energy collector should be able to absorb the wave and heat up, thus converting solar energy into thermal energy. The process requires high absorbency (100% would be perfect), and a solar collector must also suppress its thermal radiation to preserve energy, which requires low thermal emissivity (zero means no radiation),” he explained.

The scientist says that its “quasiperiodic nanophoton structure self-assembles by iron oxide (Fe₃O₄) nanoparticles, rather than cumbersome and expensive nanofabrication.”

Said structure achieves an absorption level of 94%, which is the closest to 100% that has been achieved. Its manufacture would be through transparent fiber tubes that would not fill the panel ceilings, and a greater amount of energy would be generated than the current sustainable system, according to a EurekAlert review.

The authors published their study titled: “Scalable Selective Absorber with Quasi Periodic Nanostructure for Low Grade Solar Energy Harvesting” by Zifu Xu, Ying Li, Gang Gao, Fei Xie, Ran Ju, Shimin Yu, Kaipeng Liu, Jiaxin Li, Wuyi Wang, Wei Li, Tianlong Li, and Cheng-Wei Qiu, February 21, 2023, APL Photonics, at this link:

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