Scalable and Facile Formation of Microlenses on Curved Surfaces Enabling a Highly Customized Sustainable Solar-Water Nexus

Qiuyun Lu, Pranav Khanna, Pamela Chelme-Ayala, Ben Bin Xu, Mohamed Gamal El-Din*, Xuehua Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Abstract

Solar-driven water treatment suffers from low efficiency due to the solar energy loss during the energy conversion, especially in the scale-up operation. One promising solution is using microlenses (MLs) to enhance the photodegradation of organic contaminants in water. However, most MLs fabrications apply to 2D planar surface only, which restricts their potential applications. In this study, a flexible and scalable technology is presented to fabricate MLs on curved surfaces. Precursor microdroplets form in a dilution process and are converted to MLs by photopolymerization. Optical simulations and experiments are combined to establish the correlation between optical properties of MLs and the performance of ML-functionalized reactors in photodegradation. It is demonstrated that surface MLs on all-shaped reactors significantly enhance the photodegradation efficiency of organic contaminants under simulated solar light or natural indoor light, with a maximum improvement of 83 folds. The surface coverage and size distribution of MLs can be adjusted by varying the solution concentration and the dilution rate when generating microdroplets. In addition, fabrication of MLs on a larger scale is achieved over an area up to 250 
. MLs on 3-dimensional curved surfaces fabricated by the technique enable significantly enhanced, highly customized, and sustainable solar-driven water treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2300238
Number of pages12
JournalSmall Structures
Volume5
Issue number2
Early online date22 Oct 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

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