Renewable Ways to Use Carbon for Energy

Professor Liang-shi Li’s group has been developing renewable ways to use carbon for energy.

Their approaches are based on nanometer-sized flakes of graphene, which are essentially single atomic layers of graphite (or sp2-carbons). The size of the graphene nanoflakes (also called quantum dots, four examples are in the figure) determines the wavelength of light they can absorb, an important property for light harvesting in solar energy conversion. Incorporating other atoms into the carbon framework of graphene can bestow new properties to the carbon materials, such as the abilities to catalyze the oxygen reduction reaction, a crucial step in fuel cells that is generally catalyzed by precious metals like platinum, and thermoelectricity that enables conversion of heat into electricity.

Read more: “Colloidal Graphene Quantum Dots with Well-Defined Structures”, Xin Yan, Binsong Li, Liang-shi Li, Acct. Chem. Res. In press.