Autonomous MXene-PVDF actuator for flexible solar trackers

Abstract
We report a novel flexible solar tracking system based on a photothermal-thermomechanical (PT-TM) actuator comprised of Ti3C2Tx MXene and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) bilayer. The actuation function of the proposed device originates from photothermal and surface plasmon-assisted effects in MXenes, coupled with thermomechanical deformation of in-plane aligned PVDF polymer. Two types of solar tracking modes are evaluated based on the experimental deformation behavior of the PT-TM actuator. We find that the uniaxial East-West solar tracking option increases the overall energy intensity reaching the solar module by over 30%, in comparison with the optimized tilting-controlled mode. We also demonstrate the thermally driven self-oscillation of the MXene-PVDF device, which may have promising potential for optically and thermally driven soft robotics. The PT-TM actuator devices display robust mechanical strength and durability, with no noticeable degradation in their performance after more than 1000 cycles.

Citation
Tu, S., Xu, L., El-Demellawi, J. K., Liang, H., Xu, X., Lopatin, S., … Alshareef, H. N. (2020). Autonomous MXene-PVDF actuator for flexible solar trackers. Nano Energy, 77, 105277. doi:10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.105277

Acknowledgements
We acknowledge funding support by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) under Award No. OSR-2016-CRG5-2977. S.T. X.Z. and H.A. conceived the idea. S.T. designed the experiments. S.T. J.K.D. H.F.L. X.M.X, and S.L. performed materials fabrication and characterizations. L.X. and S.D.W. conducted simulation. S.T. L.X. and J.K.D. wrote the paper. The authors would like to appreciate the helpful discussion of Dr. Keith Mclntosh from PVlighthouse. All authors contributed to paper revision.

Publisher
Elsevier BV

Journal
Nano Energy

DOI
10.1016/j.nanoen.2020.105277

Additional Links
https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S2211285520308545

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