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  1. Abstract

    A fundamental challenge in energy sustainability is efficient utilization of solar energy towards energy‐neutral systems. The current solar cell technologies have been most widely employed to achieve this goal, but are limited to a single‐layer 2D surface. To harvest solar light more efficiently, a multilayer system capable of harvesting solar light in a cuboid through transparent photothermal thin films of iron oxide and a porphyrin compound is developed. Analogous to a multilayer capacitor, an array of transparent, spectral selective, photothermal thin films allows white light to penetrate them, not only collecting photon energy in a 3D space, but generating sufficient heat on each layer with significantly increased total surface area. In this fashion, thermal energy is generated via a multilayer photothermal system that functions as an efficient solar collector, energy converter and generator with high energy density. A solar‐activated thermal energy generator that can produce heat without any power supply and reach a maximum temperature of 76.1 °C is constructed. With a constant incoming white light (0.4 W cm−2), the thermal energy generated can be amplified 12‐fold via multilayers. The multilayer system extends another dimension in solar harvesting and paves a new path to energy generation for the energy‐neutral system.

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  3. Photovoltaic solar cells have been extensively used for various applications and are considered one of the most efficient green energy sources. However, their 2D surface area solar harvesting has limitations, and there is an increasing need to explore the possibility of multiple layer solar harvest for enhanced energy density. To address this, we have developed spectral-selective transparent thin films based on porphyrin and iron oxide compounds that allow solar light to penetrate multiple layers, significantly increasing solar harvesting surface area and energy density. These thin films are designed as photovoltaic (PV) and photothermal (PT) panels that can convert photons into either electricity or thermal energy for various green energy applications, such as smart building skins and solar desalination. The advantages of this 3D solar harvesting system include enlarged solar light collecting surface area and increased energy density. The multilayer system transforms the current 2D to 3D solar harvesting, enabling efficient energy generation. This review discusses recent developments in the synthesis and characterization of PV and PT transparent thin films for solar harvesting and energy generation using multilayers. Major applications of the 3D solar harvesting system are reviewed, including thermal energy generation, multilayered DSSC PV system, and solar desalination. Some preliminary data on transparent multilayer DSSC PVs are presented. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  4. The effects of dipole interactions on magnetic nanoparticle magnetization and relaxation dynamics were investigated using five nanoparticle (NP) systems with different surfactants, carrier liquids, size distributions, inter-particle spacing, and NP confinement. Dipole interactions were found to play a crucial role in modifying the blocking temperature behavior of the superparamagnetic nanoparticles, where stronger interactions were found to increase the blocking temperatures. Consequently, the blocking temperature of a densely packed nanoparticle system with stronger dipolar interactions was found to be substantially higher than those of the discrete nanoparticle systems. The frequencies of the dominant relaxation mechanisms were determined by magnetic susceptibility measurements in the frequency range of 100 Hz–7 GHz. The loss mechanisms were identified in terms of Brownian relaxation (1 kHz–10 kHz) and gyromagnetic resonance of Fe3O4 (~1.12 GHz). It was observed that the microwave absorption of the Fe3O4 nanoparticles depend on the local environment surrounding the NPs, as well as the long-range dipole–dipole interactions. These significant findings will be profoundly important in magnetic hyperthermia medical therapeutics and energy applications. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  6. To address the critical issues in solar energy, the current research has focused on developing advanced solar harvesting materials that are low cost, lightweight, and environmentally friendly. Among many organic photovoltaics (PVs), the porphyrin compounds exhibit unique structural features that are responsible for strong ultraviolet (UV) and near infrared absorptions and high average visible transmittance, making them ideal candidates for solar-based energy applications. The porphyrin compounds have also been found to exhibit strong photothermal (PT) effects and recently applied for optical thermal insulation of building skins. These structural and optical properties of the porphyrin compounds enable them to function as a PT or a PV device upon sufficient solar harvesting. It is possible to develop a transparent porphyrin thin film with PT- and PV-dual-modality for converting sunlight to either electricity or thermal energy, which can be altered depending on energy consumption needs. A building skin can be engineered into an active device with the PT- and PV-dual modality for large-scale energy harvesting, saving, and generation. This review provides the current experimental results on the PT and PV properties of the porphyrin compounds such as chlorophyll and chlorophyllin. Their PT and PV mechanisms are discussed in correlations to their electronic structures. Also discussed are the synthesis routes, thin film deposition, and potential energy applications of the porphyrin compounds. 
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