The Department of Mechanical Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a novel technology of embedding highly conductive nanostructure into semi-conductor nanofiber. The novel composite so produced has superb charge conductivity, and can therefore be widely applied, especially in environmental arena.
The innovation was awarded the Gold Medal with Congratulations of the Jury at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva, held on 29 March to 2 April this year.
Issues to Address
Semiconductor made into nanofiber of diameter as small as 60nm (less than 1/1,000 of a human hair) have been widely used in modern daily life photonic devices (such as solar cells, photocatalyst for cleaning the environment), and non-photonic devices (such as chemical-biological sensor, lithium battery). However, electrons and holes generated by light or energy in semiconductor would readily recombine, thus reduce the current or device effectiveness. Such nature has limited the further development and applications of semiconductor nanofibers.
The novel technology developed by the research team led by Ir. Professor Wallace Leung, Chair Professor of Innovative Products and Technologies of the Department, have overcome such limitation. Applying electrospinning, the team succeeds in inserting highly conductive nano-structure (such as carbon nanotubes, graphene) into semiconductor nanofiber (such as Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) ). The novel nano-composite so produced thus provides a dedicated super-highway for electron transport, eliminating the problem of electron-hole recombination.
Amidst the potentially wide applications of the innovation in many spectrum, Professor Leung's team has initially embarked on research of applying the novel nano-composite in two environmental aspects: solar cells, and photocatalysts for cleaning air.
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