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A durable monolithic polymer foam for efficient solar steam generation.

  • Author(s): Chen, Qiaomei
  • Pei, Zhiqiang
  • Xu, Yanshuang
  • Li, Zhen
  • Yang, Yang
  • Wei, Yen
  • Ji, Yan
  • et al.

Efficient and cost-effective solar steam generation requires self-floating evaporators which can convert light into heat, prevent unnecessary heat loss and greatly accelerate evaporation without solar concentrators. Currently, the most efficient evaporators (efficiency of ∼80% under 1 sun) are invariably built from inorganic materials, which are difficult to mold into monolithic sheets. Here, we present a new polymer which can be easily solution processed into a self-floating monolithic foam. The single-component foam can be used as an evaporator with an efficiency at 1 sun comparable to that of the best graphene-based evaporators. Even at 0.5 sun, the efficiency can reach 80%. Moreover, the foam is mechanically strong, thermally stable to 300 °C and chemically resistant to organic solvents.

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