How a QUT expert is helping change future of clean energy8th May 2021
Researchers have highlighted how tiny structures called POMs could have huge implications for the future of the clean energy sector.
Polyoxometalates – POMs for short – are tiny, complex molecular structures created out of a combination of oxygen and metal atoms.
Normally metals which have been oxidised in that way have one free electron, but POMs have as many as 12 free elections available due to their unique structure.
QUT nanomaterial expert Deepak Dubal said those extra electrons greatly increase POMs’ energy conversion and storage capacity.
“I am really convinced of the promise of POMs, I work with this material a lot, and we are very excited about its potential,” he said.
A group of researchers, led by Professor Dubal, have been investigating the properties of POMs for some time, and have pulled together their research as well as much of the other current research available into a feature article in the latest edition of the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
“It has been known for some time but it is only recently being studied in-depth, because it was only recently that we had sophisticated equipment with which we could manipulate and measure the POMs,” he said.
“Also we have started to have need in fields such as energy storage where such properties would be very useful, so in the last two or three years there’s been a lot of work done on this material, including by our team.”
POMs are extremely small – just one nanometre-wide, 20,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair – but are actually extremely large for a nanoparticle, giving them lots of reactive surface area.