Scientists claim that they have created a new material that can store energy for months and even years! Lancaster University's researchers developed this innovation which can be activated using light. Once the new material is used, it will release the energy in the form of heat.
To create this new material, the researchers began with a metal-organic framework (MOF). This is a substance that is famous for being porous because of its extremely high surface area.
According to New Atlas' latest report, the high surface area allowed the MOF materials to hold onto huge amounts of molecules, making them great for filtering water or desalination. MOF can also be used to deliver drugs in the body or to capture carbon dioxide out of the air.
Researchers tested the new material
Lancaster scientists tested the MOF to find out how well this material stores energy. First, they sued a version of the material called a DMOF1.
They injected its pores with azobenzene molecules, a compound that can efficiently absorb light. Absorbing light energy causes its molecules to physically change shape.
The azobenzene molecules bend into a strained shape when the material is exposed to UV light. However, when the light is turned off, these molecules would normally return to their original state.
"The material functions a bit like phase change materials, which are used to supply heat in hand warmers," said John Griffin, the study's joint Principal Investigator via New Atlas.
"However, while hand warmers need to be heated in order to recharge them, the nice thing about this material is that it captures 'free' energy directly from the Sun," he added.
He also said that they are hoping to create more materials that can store even more energy.
Can it be used for data storage?
Science Codex reported that the new study was based on the concept of storing solar energy in photoswitches. However, previous researches showed that it is required that the photoswitches are in a liquid state. On the other hand, the researchers said that the new material containing photoswitch molecules can be used in data storage. They can also be used in drug delivery.
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Written by: Giuliano de Leon.