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Nano for Energy

Nanomaterials for Energy: 

Nanomaterials are playing a critical role in many areas of technology development for energy. At Boston University we have a set of efforts that are focused on next generation nanomaterials for the area of oil and gas exploration and discovery. In particular, the industry recognizes that the chemical and physical properties of reservoir fluids and rocks beyond the wellbore, the three dimensional distribution of reservoir fluids and rocks, and the dynamic paths of fluids are areas in which nanomaterials will play a crucial role. Faculty are working with graphene, a single atom thick membrane of carbon from graphite, to develop a novel coating impervious to the harsh environments in deep borehole. Graphene is also being explored as a membrane to make nanoscale pressure sensors, capable of enormous pressure differences without rupture. Powering sensors and autonomous micromachines will require nano- and micro-scale power sources, so faculty are working to develop a new class of Li-ion networks embedded in a polymer matrix that could be used for micron-scale batteries. To illuminate the properties of the oil fields beyond the bore hole, faculty are developing new nanomaterials that include a magnetic core surrounded by a coating with functional sensitivity to pH, reactivity with various chemicals, and hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity. Such nanoparticles can be imaged by MRI and track fluid interfaces. Additional efforts include novel MEMS devices in high temperature materials, and multiplexed nanowire sensors.

Nanophotonics for Solar Energy: 

Boston University is supporting several efforts in the area of nanophotonics for solar energy. Our focus is on functional nanomaterials that improve efficiency through novel mechanisms, but that can be produced cheaply and in large enough scale to really affect change. We are developing carbon nanotubes for energy efficient window coatings, nanoparticles to place in solar cell coatings to compress and shift the solar spectrum to match the absorption properties of solar cells; metal nanoparticles to use plasmon enhancement to improve efficiency; nanopillars of dielectrics to enhance coupling into silicon nanocrystals; and silicon-based nanoscale solar cells.

© 2007 Trustees of Boston University. All rights reserved.  |  Last modified April 16, 2007 at 12:00 AM EDT