This humidity digester breathes in atmospheric water and exhales energy

Science Daily  November 20, 2019 Researchers in Singapore have developed a humidity digester composed of a moisture hydrogel based zinc and cobalt, cathode, photoanode, and a solar cell. Just like batteries, it generates power from atmospheric humidity instead of an electrolyte. The photoanodes, acting as a photo-electrocatalyst, oxidize the absorbed water in the presence of light to split water and produce energy. The hydrogel constantly replenishes the system with water that is pulled out from the air to sustain the energy generation process. The assembly generates electricity while dehumidifying the room. The second-generation cobalt hydrogel absorbs moisture faster than any […]

An artificial sunflower that bends toward the sun

Phys.org  November 5, 2019 A team of researchers in the US (UCLA, Arizona State University, industry) has created, sunflower-like biomimetic omnidirectional tracker (SunBOT), an artificial phototropic system based on nanostructured stimuli-responsive polymers that can aim and align to the incident light direction in the three-dimensions over a broad temperature range. Such adaptive reconfiguration is realized through a built-in feedback loop rooted in the photothermal and mechanical properties of the material. They have shown that an array of SunBOTs can, in principle, be used in solar vapour generation devices, as it achieves up to a 400% solar energy-harvesting enhancement over non-tropistic […]

Microbes harvest electrons: Novel process discovered

Science Daily  November 5, 2019 Bacteria don’t have mouths, so they need another way to bring their fuel into their bodies. Researchers at Washington University have shown how a naturally occurring bacteria (a strain of Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1) builds a conduit to accept electrons across its outer membrane. The bacteria rely on an iron-containing helper molecule called a deca-heme cytochrome c. By processing this protein, TIE-1 can form an essential bridge to its electron source. According to the researchers the study will aid in designing a bacterial platform where bacteria can feed on electricity and carbon dioxide to produce value-added […]

Scientists Built an ‘Artificial Leaf’ That Uses Sunlight to Produce Clean Synthetic Fuel

Science Alert  October 26, 2019 Researchers in the UK have developed a leaf that mimics the photosynthesis as in plants, combining incoming light, water and carbon dioxide with perovskite as a catalyst which produces hydrogen and carbon monoxide to make syngas. According to the researchers, while the efficiency of the machine is low now, it should be possible to improve that with the unique combination of materials and catalysts. This technology is not limited for use in warm countries, or only operating the process during the summer months. It can be used from dawn until dusk, anywhere in the world. […]

Solar cells with new interfaces

EurekAlert  September 30, 2019 Perovskite solar cells are still unstable due to several internal degradation factors. Most approaches for solving problems of stability and improvement of the efficiency of perovskite cells concern the optimization of the chemical composition of perovskite. An international team of researchers (Italy, Russia) proposed an original approach to design perovskite solar cells with improved performances, namely the use of two-dimensional Titanium-Carbide compounds called MXenes to dope perovskite. They incorporated microscopic amount of MXenes in the perovskite solar cell. As a result, they achieved increase of the efficiency for devices by more than 25 %, compared to […]

Converting absorbed photons into twice as many excitons

Science Daily  September 24, 2019 An international team of researchers (Japan, Finland) found that when light was exposed to the surface of a tetracene alkanethiol-modified gold nanocluster, they were able to convert singlet oxygen at a highly efficient conversion rate of 160%, far exceeding 100% conversion, in comparison to the number of absorbed photons. An increase in lifetime of about 10,000 times was achieved by greatly suppressing the rapid loss of excitation energy on the metal surface. These findings are expected to contribute to areas such as solar energy conversion, electronics, life sciences, and medical care in the future…read more. […]

Engineered bacteria could be missing link in energy storage

Science Daily  May 23, 2019 At present, no existing technology provides large-scale storage and energy retrieval for sustainable energy at a low financial and environmental cost. According to a team of researchers in the US (Cornell University, industry) engineered electroactive microbes could address many of the limitations of current energy storage technologies by enabling rewired carbon fixation, a process that spatially separates reactions that are normally carried out together in a photosynthetic cell and replaces the least efficient with non-biological equivalents. If successful, this could allow storage of renewable electricity through electrochemical or enzymatic fixation of carbon dioxide and subsequent […]

Producing electricity at estuaries using light and osmosis

Eurekalert  May 23, 2019 Researchers in Switzerland are working on a method to capture an energy source that’s constantly available at river estuaries: osmotic power, also known as blue energy. Blue energy relies on the chemical potential difference between solutions of high and low ionic concentrations, potentially providing an independent energy source at estuaries around the world. Single nanopores in molybdenum disulfide (MoS 2)-based membranes have shown record-high power outputs in alkaline conditions. By increasing the surface charge of MoS 2 membranes by light, we can double the osmotic power generated by a single nanopore at a neutral pH. The […]

Using DNA templates to harness the sun’s energy

Science Daily  April 25, 2019 A team of researchers in the US (Arizona State University, University of New Mexico) reports significant progress in optimizing systems that mimic the first stage of photosynthesis. In previous the team demonstrated the utility of DNA to serve as a programmable template for aggregating dyes. To build upon these findings, they will use the photonic principles that underlie natural light harvesting complexes to construct programmable structures based on DNA self-assembly, which provides the flexible platform necessary for the design and development of complex molecular photonic systems. Using DNA architectures as a template, the researchers were able […]

Jiggly Jell-O to make powerful new hydrogen fuel catalyst

Science Daily  December 15, 2018 An international team of researchers (USA – MIT, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, US Army, China) used gelatin hydrogel as a scaffold to coordinate metal ions (Mo5+, W6+, Co2+), resulting in ultrathin‐film morphologies of diverse TMC sheets. Among these materials, the Mo2C–Co hybrid provides excellent hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) efficiency. Such performance makes Mo2C–Co a viable noble‐metal‐free catalyst for the HER and is competitive with the standard platinum on carbon support. This template‐assisted, self‐assembling, scalable, and low‐cost manufacturing process presents a new tactic to construct low‐dimensional TMCs with applications in various clean‐energy‐related fields…read more. […]