Dr. Adi Salomon - Harnessing Sunlight to Create Fuel

Dr. Adi Salomon - Harnessing Sunlight to Create Fuel (Enlarge)

BIU scientist Dr. Adi Salomon and her research team are on the way to harnessing sunlight into energy in the form of fuel. While studying the interaction between metallic nano-structures and light, Dr. Salomon, of the Department of Chemistry and the Bar-Ilan Institute for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, synthesized a new type of material – lightweight metals.

 

“These feather-light metals are quite different from typical metals”, explains Salomon. “They consist of many intricate networks of metallic nanoparticles, in varied shapes and sizes.” Similar to the porous structure of corals, in which diffuse scattering of light enables efficient symbiotic photosynthesis of algae on the coral’s surface, “our coral-inspired metallic structures are comprised of intricate porous networks. They are lightweight, conductive, have a huge surface area, and guest materials can penetrate them easily.”

 

When exposed to light, the nanostructures resemble artificial leaves which function as antennas for harnessing sunlight. “Think of photoreceptors in plants that convert sunlight into energy during the photosynthesis process,” Salomon explains. “These nano-porous metallic networks interact with electro-magnetic fields in a way that enables them to capture more light energy.”

 

Dr. Salomon’s lab is a member of the Israeli National Center for Electrochemical Propulsion group that advances academic research of viable fuel alternatives. “Our plan is to convert harnessed sunlight into energy in the form of fuel. In addition, these structures hold huge promise for the automotive industry in manufacturing lightweight car batteries, or alternatively for developing medical optical detectors,” concludes this BIU scientist.