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Solar Water Treatment: Materials, Structures and Applications
1  College of Engineering and Applied Sciences Nanjing University


Water scarcity is one of the most pressing global challenges. Nanomaterials with carefully tailored properties can be used to manipulate the flow of phonons, electrons and photons, to enable unconventional solution to addressing this issue. In this talk, I will present our recent progress in solar steam generation for water treatment.


We report a plasmon-enhanced solar desalination device.  This most efficient and broad-band plasmonic absorber is fabricated through self-assembly of metallic nanoparticles onto a nanoporous template by one step deposition process. Because of its efficient light absorption and strong field enhancement, it can enable very efficient and effective solar desalination by using low cost aluminum nanoparticles.


Inspired by the transpiration process in plants, we report an artificial transpiration device with a unique design of two dimensional water path. With efficient two dimensional water supply and suppressed heat loss, it can enables an efficient (80% under one-sun illumination) and effective (four orders salinity decrement) solar desalination device. More strikingly, the energy transfer efficiency of this artificial transpiration device is independent of water quantity and can be achieved without extra optical or thermal supporting systems, therefore significantly improve the scalability and feasibility of this technology.



  1. PNAS 113, 13953 (2016)
  2. Nature Photonics 10, 393-398 (2016)
  3. Science Advances 2:e1501227 (2016)
  4. Advanced Materials, 29, 1604031 (2017)