Nanotechnology controls crystal morphology for energy and environmental applications

Using computational methods to guide their experimental work, Australian and Chinese researchers have developed a method of producing titanium oxide crystals with more reactive surfaces, providing a path to commercially available nanotech methods within five years for removing pollution from water and air, within ten years for solar energy conversion. From the University of Queensland “UQ researchers make breakthrough in renewable energy materials“, via

University of Queensland researchers have made a ground-breaking discovery that produces highly efficient miniature crystals which could revolutionise the way we harvest and use solar energy.

Professor Max Lu, from UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), said they were one step closer to the holy grail of cost-effective solar energy with their discovery.

“We have grown the world’s first titanium oxide single crystals with large amounts of reactive surfaces, something that was predicted as almost impossible,” Professor Lu said.

“Highly active surfaces in such crystals allow high reactivity and efficiency in devices used for solar energy conversion and hydrogen production.

“Titania nano-crystals are promising materials for cost-effective solar cells, hydrogen production from splitting water, and solar decontamination of pollutants.

“The beauty of our technique is that it is very simple and cheap to make such materials at mild conditions.

“Now that the research has elucidated the conditions required, the method is like cooking in an oven and the crystals can be applied like paints.”

The research was published in Nature (abstract)

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