Context: Researchers at IIT Bombay have synthesised particles that absorb three frequencies of sunlight and convert it to heat with an efficiency of 87%.
About Carbon Nanoflorets
- The carbon nanostructure has the potential to revolutionise solar energy conversion.
- The scientists began their experiments with a white material called dendritic fibrous nanosilica (DFNS) and transformed it into the darkest black carbon nanoflorets.
- To create the carbon nanoflorets, the DFNS powder was heated in a furnace and introduced acetylene gas into the chamber.
- The white powder turned black, indicating that carbon had been deposited on the DFNS.
- After dissolving the DFNS with a strong chemical, what remained were spherical nanostructures made of carbon cones.
- The nanoflorets resemble tiny marigold flowers.
- Carbon nanoflorets had an unprecedented ability to absorb sunlight at multiple frequencies and convert it into heat with exceptional efficiency.
- They can absorb infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light, unlike traditional solar-thermal conversion materials that only absorb visible and ultraviolet light.
- Their cone-like shape minimises reflection allowing for maximum light absorption. Most of the light that falls on the material is reflected internally.
- The nanoflorets possess long-range disorder which prevents heat dissipation over long distances, enabling efficient heat retention.
- The material is ripe for commercialisation as carbon is inexpensive and the nanoflorets can generate heat sustainably, without having to burn fossil fuels.
- 1 square metre coating of carbon nanoflorets could vaporise 5 litres of water per hour, surpassing the performance of commercial solar stills.
- They can offer a sustainable solution for heating homes and sterilising surfaces in hospitals without relying on fossil fuels. With its wide range of potential applications and minimal environmental impact, the material has potential to play a significant role in the renewable energy sector.