Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Nanotrees harvest the sun's energy to turn water into hydrogen fuel: Researchers focused on artificial photosynthesis

Schematic shows the light trapping effect in nanowire arrays. Photons on are bounced between single nanowires and eventually absorbed by them (R). By harvesting more sun light using the vertical nanotree structure, Wang’s team has developed a way to produce more hydrogen fuel efficiently compared to planar counterparts where they are reflected off the surface (L).

Credit: Image Credit: Wang Research Group, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Originally published in the journal Nanoscale, reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Schematic shows the light trapping effect in nanowire arrays. Photons on are bounced between single nanowires and eventually absorbed by them (R). By harvesting more sun light using the vertical nanotree structure, Wang’s team has developed a way to produce more hydrogen fuel efficiently compared to planar counterparts where they are reflected off the surface (L).

Credit: Image Credit: Wang Research Group, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Originally published in the journal Nanoscale, reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Abstract:
University of California, San Diego electrical engineers are building a forest of tiny nanowire trees in order to cleanly capture solar energy without using fossil fuels and harvest it for hydrogen fuel generation. Reporting in the journal Nanoscale, the team said nanowires, which are made from abundant natural materials like silicon and zinc oxide, also offer a cheap way to deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.

Nanotrees harvest the sun's energy to turn water into hydrogen fuel: Researchers focused on artificial photosynthesis

San Diego, CA | Posted on March 8th, 2012

"This is a clean way to generate clean fuel," said Deli Wang, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

The trees' vertical structure and branches are keys to capturing the maximum amount of solar energy, according to Wang. That's because the vertical structure of trees grabs and adsorbs light while flat surfaces simply reflect it, Wang said, adding that it is also similar to retinal photoreceptor cells in the human eye. In images of Earth from space, light reflects off of flat surfaces such as the ocean or deserts, while forests appear darker.

Wang's team has mimicked this structure in their "3D branched nanowire array" which uses a process called photoelectrochemical water-splitting to produce hydrogen gas. Water splitting refers to the process of separating water into oxygen and hydrogen in order to extract hydrogen gas to be used as fuel. This process uses clean energy with no green-house gas byproduct. By comparison, the current conventional way of producing hydrogen relies on electricity from fossil fuels.

"Hydrogen is considered to be clean fuel compared to fossil fuel because there is no carbon emission, but the hydrogen currently used is not generated cleanly," said Ke Sun, a PhD student in electrical engineering who led the project.

By harvesting more sun light using the vertical nanotree structure, Wang's team has developed a way to produce more hydrogen fuel efficiently compared to planar counterparts. Wang is also affiliated with the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology and the Materials Science and Engineering Program at UC San Diego.

The vertical branch structure also maximizes hydrogen gas output, said Sun. For example, on the flat wide surface of a pot of boiling water, bubbles must become large to come to the surface. In the nanotree structure, very small gas bubbles of hydrogen can be extracted much faster. "Moreover, with this structure, we have enhanced, by at least 400,000 times, the surface area for chemical reactions," said Sun.

In the long run, what Wang's team is aiming for is even bigger: artificial photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, as plants absorb sunlight they also collect carbon dioxide (CO2) and water from the atmosphere to create carbohydrates to fuel their own growth. Wang's team hopes to mimic this process to also capture CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing carbon emissions, and convert it into hydrocarbon fuel.

"We are trying to mimic what the plant does to convert sunlight to energy," said Sun. "We are hoping in the near future our 'nanotree' structure can eventually be part of an efficient device that functions like a real tree for photosynthesis."

The team is also studying alternatives to zinc oxide, which absorbs the sun's ultraviolet light, but has stability issues that affect the lifetime usage of the nanotree structure. Students with the Wang Research Group will be presenting this research on April 12, 2012, at Research Expo, the annual research and networking event of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Register for Research Expo.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Catherine Hockmuth

858-822-1359

Copyright © University of California - San Diego

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

Iranian Scientists Use Magnetic Field to Transfer Anticancer Drug to Tumor Tissue May 24th, 2015

Discoveries

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

Iranian Scientists Use Magnetic Field to Transfer Anticancer Drug to Tumor Tissue May 24th, 2015

Announcements

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

Iranian Scientists Use Magnetic Field to Transfer Anticancer Drug to Tumor Tissue May 24th, 2015

Energy

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity: Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing May 23rd, 2015

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

Sandia researchers first to measure thermoelectric behavior by 'Tinkertoy' materials May 20th, 2015

Events/Classes

Haydale Named Lead Sponsor for Cambridge Graphene Festival May 22nd, 2015

Aspen Aerogels to Present at the Cowen and Company Technology, Media & Telecom Conference May 21st, 2015

Directa Plus in Barcelona to present the innovative project GEnIuS for oil spills clean-up activities: The company has created a graphene-based product for the remediation of water contaminated by oil and hydrocarbons May 21st, 2015

Nanometrics Announces Live Webcast of Upcoming Investor and Analyst Day May 20th, 2015

Fuel Cells

Unique microscopic images provide new insights into ionic liquids April 28th, 2015

Expanding the reach of metallic glass April 22nd, 2015

Newly-Developed Nanocatalysts Increase Performance of Fuel Cells April 16th, 2015

Cobalt film a clean-fuel find: Rice University discovery is efficient, robust at drawing hydrogen and oxygen from water April 15th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps to 22.1 percent: Aalto University's researchers improved their previous record by over 3 absolute percents in cooperation with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya May 18th, 2015

Wearables may get boost from boron-infused graphene: Rice U. researchers flex muscle of laser-written microsupercapacitors May 18th, 2015

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations May 16th, 2015

ORNL demonstrates first large-scale graphene fabrication May 14th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project