Light harvesting and photothermal effects for water desalination

A. Alabastri
Rice University,
United States

Keywords: photothermal, desalination, thermal, nanoparticles


Light absorbing nanostructures, metallic or non-metallic, can couple to electromagnetic radiation and generate heat in nanoscale regions. Recent research has demonstrated that broadband light absorbing nanoparticles dispersed in water enhance its evaporation rate, providing a way to produce steam and purify water, using sunlight. Many existing water purification technologies require complex and costly infrastructures and rely on electricity or fossil fuels to function. In this context, we have introduced the concept of nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation (NESMD), in which solar-driven localized heat drives the distillation process. NESMD is a low-cost Sun-powered scalable water desalination system, which can be deployed in regions lacking access to drinking water and/or electric power supply. In the effort to increase light-to-fresh water conversion efficiency, it will be shown how the use of small scale optical elements and energy recovery strategies have the potential to push daily water purification rates up to ~20 L for 1 m2 device footprint. References: • P. Dongare*, A. Alabastri*, O. Neumann, P. Nordlander and N. Halas, Solar thermal desalination as a nonlinear optical process, PNAS, 116(27), pp. 13182-13187 (2019) • P. D. Dongare*, A. Alabastri*, S. Pedersen, K. R. Zodrow, N. J. Hogan, O. Neumann, J. Wu, T. Wang, A. Deshmukh, M. Elimelech, Q. Li, P. Nordlander and N. J. Halas, Nanophotonics-enabled solar membrane distillation for off-grid water purification, PNAS, 114(27), pp. 6936-6941 (2017) • Roberts, J. Yang, M. Reish, A. Alabastri, N. J. Halas, P. Nordlander, H. Everitt, Plasmonic Nanoparticle-based Epoxy Photocuring: a Deeper Look, Materials Today, 27, pp. 14-20 (2018) • Emboras, A. Alabastri, F. Ducry, B. Cheng, Y. Salamin, P. Ma, S. Andermatt, B. Baeuerle, A. Josten, C. Hafner, M. Luisier, P. Nordlander and J. Leuthold , Atomic Scale Photodetection enabled by a Memristive Junction, ACS Nano, 12(7), pp. 6706-6713 (2018) • A. Alabastri, M Malerba, E. Calandrini, A. Manjavacas, F. De Angelis, A. Toma, and R. Proietti Zaccaria, Controlling the Heat Dissipation in Temperature-Matched Plasmonic Nanostructures, Nano Letters, 17(9), pp. 5472-5480, (2017) • Alabastri, A. Toma, M. Malerba, F. De Angelis and R. Proietti Zaccaria, High Temperature Nanoplasmonics: The Key Role of Nonlinear Effects, ACS Photonics, 2(1), pp. 115-120, (2015)