Nano- and Microporous Materials Inspired by Nature

Using organisms as inspiration in the design of pore and channel based energy conversion and storage devices.

(Xiamen University) – Global demand for clean sources of energy outside of fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas will depend heavily on the conversion and storage of hydrogen rich molecules such as hydrogen, methanol, ethanol, etc. Future sources of green energy, which are removed from the grid, require new devices that will allow for the transport of what will likely be potential energy, stored as chemicals, from remote areas to be converted to electricity in population centers.

Porous structures have been developed for energy conversion or storage. The terminology of this area defines pores as having a diameter greater than its depth and are ideal for storage. Otherwise a channel is formed, which is an ideal structure for energy harvesting and conversion.1

Both pore and channel structures possess a large amount of interface between two materials. Nano- and micro-sized pores and channels, due to their small size, maximize the amount of interface and result in an ideal environment for high efficiencies.

In the design of porous materials, organisms provide endless inspirations. For example, the nacre structure found in many shells has both high strength and toughness with many pores and therefore is a good model for designing batteries and supercapacitors with robust mechanical properties.

The Xu Hou research group at Xiamen University is mainly focused on analyzing the pore and channel structures in devices, which use bio-inspired and hierarchical fundamentals in the development of devices for energy conversion and storage. Moreover, the group is learning from nature to fabricate smart materials for energy efficient and environmentally friendly devices.

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Please contact Professor Hou for more information about the devices developed by this group for use in energy conversion and storage at Professor Hou.

Edited for content and length by Dr. Matthew A. Hood.

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