Supplying the world with sustainable energy is one of the most pressing issues in modern society. Nanomaterials with carefully tailored properties (such as interface, impurities) can be used to manipulate the flow of phonons, electrons and photons, to enable novel energy devices in an unconventional manner. In this talk, I will present two recent examples.
First, we report on plasmonic-enhanced solar desalination devices. The plasmonic absorber is fabricated through self-assembly of metallic nanoparticles onto a nanoporous template by one step deposition process. Because of its efficient light absorption and strong field enhancement, it can enable very efficient (>90%) and effective (4 orders salinity decrement) solar desalination.
While silicon is considered as one of the most important materials for many energy applications such as photovoltaics, Li-ion battery, and thermoelectrics, most of silicon processes are historically developed for electronics not for energy applications. However, energy applications have very different requirements for materials (such as size, purity and cost). Here I will demonstrate that high-quality purified Si nanomaterials (99.999%) with fine control of size and geometry can be achieved through a nanopurification process from low grade sources.