SYDNEY, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) – Researchers at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, discovered on Thursday that they have developed nano-enhanced material that can capture 99 percent of light and turn it into energy-related chemical reactions.
Globally, chemical production accounts for about 10 percent of total energy consumption and 7 percent of industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
"We all rely on chemical processing products – from plastics and medicines, to fertilizers and materials that produce colors on digital screens," said chief researcher, associate professor Daniel Gomez.
"But, just like the rest of our economy, it is the industry that is currently fueling coal."
According to Gomez, "one of the greatest challenges in moving towards a sustainable future is that many of the best materials to induce chemical reactions are not sufficiently sensitive to light."
Now, the team has devised a method for maximizing paladin absorption ability, an element that produces excellent chemical reactions, but is usually not very sensitive to light.
By manipulating the palladium nanoparticle optical properties, the team made the material much more sensitive, requiring only 4 nanometers of nano-enhanced palladium to absorb 99 percent of light and achieve a chemical reaction – human hair, for comparison, is 100,000 nanometers thick.
"It's a scalable and efficient technology that opens up new opportunities for using solar energy – switching from power generation to direct transforming solar energy into valuable chemicals," said Gomez.