Members of the AM-SET-LAB are currently working in the following research areas:
Thermal Photonic Materials
Conventional materials emit and absorb thermal radiation isotopically over a broad frequency range. Alternatively, thermal photonic materials can be designed to control the directionality and spectral distribution of the emissivity and absorptivity of thermal radiation. Thermal photonic materials are fabricated by structuring their periodicity or surface features at length scales comparable to the wavelength of thermal radiation. The sub-wavelength structure of these materials can be designed to cause wave interference effects and to tailor their thermal radiative properties. The ability to control thermal radiation offers new opportunities to advance sustainable energy technologies including applications in solar thermal energy utilization and radiative day-time cooling.
Energy Harvesting Windows
Under favorable conditions the sun provides ~ 1 kW/m2 of radiant energy over a broad spectral region extending from the UV to the IR. Visible sunlight, with wavelengths from ~ 0.38 μm to ~ 0.75 μm, accounts for less than 50% of the solar irradiance. Window coatings can be designed to transmit, reflect or absorb a large portion of the solar irradiance for applications in building temperature control or building-integrated photovoltaics. Furthermore, considering windows for greenhouses, most plants primarily use blue and red light for photosynthesis while reflecting green light. Greenhouse panels can be designed with spectral splitting photonic structures or luminescent solar concentrators in order to harvest the sunlight not used for photosynthesis and provide energy for photovoltaic cells or to optimize the microclimate (temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration, lighting conditions) within greenhouses for optimal plant growth.
Thermal Energy Storage
Thermal energy storage (TES) systems can reserve industrial waste heat, excess renewable energy generated during off-peak hours, or solar energy such that it can be utilized hours, days or months later. TES materials may use sensible heat, latent heat, or the heat of absorption or adsorption to store energy that can subsequently be used to provide building heating, cooling, or power generation. Metrics used to evaluate the operation and performance of TES systems include energy storage density, capacity, discharge rate, storage temperature, and durability of the material used for energy storage. The increasing usage of renewable energy sources, which are most often inherently intermittent, provides new opportunities for the development and deployment of TES technologies.