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Tiny tubes and rods show promise as catalysts, sunscreen
Date:9/10/2007

UPTON, NY - Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed new ways to make or modify nanorods and nanotubes of titanium oxide, a material used in a variety of industrial and medical applications. The methods and new titanium oxide materials may lead to improved catalysts for hydrogen production, more efficient solar cells, and more protective sunscreens. The research is published in two papers now available online, one in Advanced Materials (August 22, 2007), and the other in the Journal of Physical Chemistry (September 8, 2007).

In the first study, the scientists enhanced the ability of titanium oxide to absorb light.

"Titanium dioxide's ability to absorb light is one the main reasons it is so useful in industrial and medical applications," said Wei-Qiang Han, a scientist at Brookhaven's Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) and lead author on both papers. It is used as a photocatalyst for converting sunlight to electricity in solar cells and also has applications in the production of hydrogen, in gas sensors, in batteries, and in using sunlight to degrade some environmental contaminants. It is also a common ingredient in sunscreen.

Many scientists have explored ways to improve the light-absorbing capability of titanium oxide, for example, by "doping" the material with added metals. Han and his coworkers took a new approach. They enhanced the material's light-absorption capability by simply introducing nanocavities, completely enclosed pockets measuring billionths of a meter within the 100-nanometer-diameter solid titanium oxide rods.

The resulting nanocavity-filled titanium oxide nanorods were 25 percent more efficient at absorbing certain wavelengths of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) solar radiation than titanium oxide without nanocavities.

"Our research demonstrates that titanium oxide nanorods with nanocavities can dramatically improve the absorpti
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Contact: Karen McNulty Walsh
kmcnulty@bnl.gov
631-344-8350
DOE/Brookhaven National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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