Carbon nanoflorets

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Carbon nanoflorets made by IIT Bombay researchers can convert incident sunlight to heat with 87% efficiency.

About Carbon nanoflorets

  • These are like tiny marigold flowers made only of carbon which are called as the material carbon nanoflorets.
  • Process of synthesis
    • Researchers heated a special form of silicon dust called DFNS (for dendritic fibrous nanosilica) in a furnace.
    • Once heated, she introduced acetylene gas into the chamber.
    • The white powder turned black – a sign that carbon had been deposited on the DFNS.
    • Then they collected the black powder and treated it with a strong chemical that dissolved the DFNS away, leaving carbon particles behind.
  • The structure of the silicon particles – 50-1,200 nanometers in size – resembled spikes arranged around a sphere. 
  • Observation
    • They reported that these nanoflorets could absorb sunlight at many frequencies and convert it to heat with an unprecedented efficiency.
    • The nanoflorets also didn’t easily dissipate the heat generated into the environment, making the material a good candidate to heat. 
    • The nanoflorets converted the light energy they absorbed into thermal energy – a process called solar-thermal conversion – with a remarkable efficiency of 87%.
  • The carbon nanoflorets’ high efficiency comes from three properties.
    • The nanoflorets absorb three frequencies in sunlight – infrared, visible light, and ultraviolet while other common materials absorb only visible and ultraviolet light.
    • Shape: As light falls on the material, the carbon cones ensure that very little is reflected back.
    • Long-range disorder: Parts of the structure at some distance from each other possess different physical properties. As a result, heat waves in the material aren’t carried over long distances, reducing the amount of heat dissipated away.

Q1) What is Infrared (IR) radiation?

It is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that lies between visible light and microwaves. It has wavelengths longer than those of visible light, ranging from approximately 0.7 micrometers (microns) to 1 millimeter. Infrared radiation is invisible to the human eye but can be detected and utilized in various scientific, industrial, and technological applications.

Source: Tiny carbon ‘flowers’ turn light to heat at unrivalled efficiency, IIT team finds