Sustainable Molecular Systems
The newly formed Sustainable Molecular Systems Laboratory prepares and studies materials capable of capturing sunlight and converting it into useful energy.
We prepare chiral molecular materials for incorporation into solar energy capturing devices, mainly bulk heterojunction solar cells. Determining the organisation of these molecules in the films is challenging, as most techniques determine surface structure or bulk properties. Synchrotron based circular dichroism has been used in a novel way to observe the arrangement of the molecules in these films.
Another way to capture sunlight’s energy is in the form of photoswitchable materials that can store heat in their metastable forms. Triplet energy sensitization of switching has been used to control this process using bioplastics as a medium to ensure controllability and sustainability.
The stored solar energy can also be converted into electrical power using thermoelectric generators. This achievement was made using two photoswitches in a microelectromechanical chip, it has potential to transfer solar to electrical power without geographical restrictions.