Researchers in Switzerland have developed a type the world over, called ‘photoconjugate’, that has been shown to be effective in the production of ‘brick’-like structures.
Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) have developed the photocattagers, known as ‘photogases’, and are currently investigating their potential applications.
The ‘photography’ of the materials is achieved through a process called ‘dispersive scattering’, whereby a large portion of the material is ‘photographed’ onto a glass substrate.
The researchers say their process is more than just a simple paint job, and is capable of producing a wide range of structural structures and shapes.
“Photography of materials in this way is a new approach to a number of different fields,” said Professor Thomas Eberhardt from ETH.
“It has the potential to provide new materials with an almost mechanical appearance, as well as to improve the efficiency of industrial processes and improve the way we can manage and dispose of hazardous waste.”
“The photogase process is a good example of a new technique which is able to produce a very high surface area of material in a very small space,” said Eberhart.
The photodetector’s unique properties were first identified by Professor Jörg Kliman of the ETH’s Materials Science and Engineering Department, who discovered the phenomenon when he was studying a chemical reaction between a metal and water.
The ETH team says that the photogases were developed for the photoconjugator by Professor Robert Jäger from the ETH School of Photobiology.
“This is the first time that the material has been used to make a high surface-area film of materials,” said Klimant.
“The film is extremely compact, and can be made of several different types of materials, with different optical properties.
It is very efficient, and very strong,” said Dr Jägers.”
With this technology we hope to build a better photocatalytic coating for water and other materials in the future,” he added.
Klimant’s research team is currently investigating how the photodelic properties can be modified by adding a coating of the ‘water-soluble’ polymer polypropylene.
The polymer is naturally used in a number-one way in the manufacturing of polycarbonate films, as a solvent for the metal-containing polymer film.
“We are now trying to get some information about the mechanism of the polymer, so that we can modify its properties to better suit the material,” said Jäges.
“This is an interesting area, and we are working with a number to improve our understanding.”
“If we do not understand the mechanism, we cannot control the surface-mount and it is difficult to control the shape of the film,” he said.