Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > 'Tunable' metal nanostructures for fuel cells, batteries and solar energy

Wiesner Lab
Samples of self-assembled metal-containing films made by the new sol-gel process. The films are essentially glass in which metal atoms are suspended, which imparts the color., Grid lines are 5 mm apart.
Wiesner Lab

Samples of self-assembled metal-containing films made by the new sol-gel process. The films are essentially glass in which metal atoms are suspended, which imparts the color., Grid lines are 5 mm apart.

Abstract:
For catalysts in fuel cells and electrodes in batteries, engineers would like to manufacture metal films that are porous, to make more surface area available for chemical reactions, and highly conductive, to carry off the electricity. The latter has been a frustrating challenge.

'Tunable' metal nanostructures for fuel cells, batteries and solar energy

Ithaca, NY | Posted on April 2nd, 2012

But Cornell chemists have now developed a way to make porous metal films with up to 1,000 times the electrical conductivity offered by previous methods. Their technique also opens the door to creating a wide variety of metal nanostructures for engineering and biomedical applications, the researchers said.

The results of several years of experimentation are described March 18 online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

"We have reached unprecedented levels of control on composition, nanostructure and functionality -- for example, conductivity -- of the resulting materials, all with a simple 'one-pot' mix-and-heat approach," said senior author Ulrich Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering.

The new method builds on the "sol-gel process," already familiar to chemists. Certain compounds of silicon mixed with solvents will self-assemble into a structure of silicon dioxide (i.e., glass) honeycombed with nanometer-scaled pores. The challenge facing the researchers was to add metal to create a porous structure that conducts electricity.

About 10 years ago, Wiesner's research group, collaborating with the Cornell Fuel Cell Institute, tried using the sol-gel process with the catalysts that pull protons off of fuel molecules to generate electricity. They needed materials that would pass high current, but adding more than a small amount of metal disrupted the sol-gel process, explained Scott Warren, first author of the Nature Materials paper.

Warren, who was then a Ph.D. student in Wiesner's group and is now a researcher at Northwestern University, hit on the idea of using an amino acid to link metal atoms to silica molecules, because he had realized that one end of the amino acid molecule has an affinity for silica and the other end for metals.

"If there was a way to directly attach the metal to the silica sol-gel precursor then we would prevent this phase separation that was disrupting the self-assembly process," he explained.

The immediate result is a nanostructure of metal, silica and carbon, with much more metal than had been possible before, greatly increasing conductivity. The silica and carbon can be removed, leaving porous metal. But a silica-metal structure would hold its shape at the high temperatures found in some fuel cells, Warren noted, and removing just the silica to leave a carbon-metal complex offers other possibilities, including larger pores.

The researchers report a wide range of experiments showing that their process can be used to make "a library of materials with a high degree of control over composition and structure." They have built structures of almost every metal in the periodic table, and with additional chemistry can "tune" the dimensions of the pores in a range from 10 to 500 nanometers. They have also made metal-filled silica nanoparticles small enough to be ingested and secreted by humans, with possible biomedical applications. Wiesner's group is also known for creating "Cornell dots," which encapsulate dyes in silica nanoparticles, so a possible future application of the sol-gel process might be to build Graetzel solar cells, which contain light-sensitive dyes. Michael Graetzel of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and innovator of the Graetzel cell is a co-author of the new paper. The measurement of the record-setting electrical conductivity was performed in his laboratory.

The research has been supported by the Department of Energy and, through several channels, the National Science Foundation.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Bill Steele

Copyright © Cornell University

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

Light pulses control graphene's electrical behavior: Finding could allow ultrafast switching of conduction, and possibly lead to new broadband light sensors August 1st, 2014

President Obama Meets U.S. Laureates of 2014 Kavli Prizes August 1st, 2014

Stanford researchers seek 'Holy Grail' in battery design: Pure lithium anode closer to reality with development of protective layer of interconnected carbon domes August 1st, 2014

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Light pulses control graphene's electrical behavior: Finding could allow ultrafast switching of conduction, and possibly lead to new broadband light sensors August 1st, 2014

President Obama Meets U.S. Laureates of 2014 Kavli Prizes August 1st, 2014

Stanford researchers seek 'Holy Grail' in battery design: Pure lithium anode closer to reality with development of protective layer of interconnected carbon domes August 1st, 2014

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

Self Assembly

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Berkeley Lab researchers create nanoparticle thin films that self-assemble in 1 minute June 9th, 2014

Design of self-assembling protein nanomachines starts to click: A nanocage builds itself from engineered components June 5th, 2014

Molecular self-assembly scales up from nanometers to millimeters June 5th, 2014

Discoveries

Iranian Scientists Produce Cobalt–Alumina Ceramic Nano Inks August 1st, 2014

Light pulses control graphene's electrical behavior: Finding could allow ultrafast switching of conduction, and possibly lead to new broadband light sensors August 1st, 2014

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy: New molecular test kit predicts patient’s survival and drug response August 1st, 2014

Carnegie Mellon Chemists Create Nanofibers Using Unprecedented New Method July 31st, 2014

Announcements

Light pulses control graphene's electrical behavior: Finding could allow ultrafast switching of conduction, and possibly lead to new broadband light sensors August 1st, 2014

President Obama Meets U.S. Laureates of 2014 Kavli Prizes August 1st, 2014

Stanford researchers seek 'Holy Grail' in battery design: Pure lithium anode closer to reality with development of protective layer of interconnected carbon domes August 1st, 2014

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014

Energy

Nanostructured metal-oxide catalyst efficiently converts CO2 to methanol: Highly reactive sites at interface of 2 nanoscale components could help overcome hurdle of using CO2 as a starting point in producing useful products July 31st, 2014

From Narrow to Broad July 30th, 2014

Oregon chemists eye improved thin films with metal substitution: Solution-based inorganic process could drive more efficient electronics and solar devices July 21st, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics

Stanford researchers seek 'Holy Grail' in battery design: Pure lithium anode closer to reality with development of protective layer of interconnected carbon domes August 1st, 2014

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Stanford team achieves 'holy grail' of battery design: A stable lithium anode - Engineers use carbon nanospheres to protect lithium from the reactive and expansive problems that have restricted its use as an anode July 27th, 2014

Nano-supercapacitors for electric cars July 25th, 2014

Fuel Cells

Media Advisory: Minister Rempel to Announce Support for Alberta's Nanotechnology Sector June 20th, 2014

Evolution of a Bimetallic Nanocatalyst June 6th, 2014

University of Surrey collaborates with India and Tata Steel to revolutionise renewable energy March 26th, 2014

Novel membrane reveals water molecules will bounce off a liquid surface: Study may lead to more efficient water-desalination systems, fundamental understanding of fluid flow March 16th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

From Narrow to Broad July 30th, 2014

Steam from the sun: New spongelike structure converts solar energy into steam July 21st, 2014

Making dreams come true: Making graphene from plastic? July 2nd, 2014

Shrinky Dinks close the gap for nanowires July 1st, 2014

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







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE