- Category: Technology
- 31 Jul 2009
- Published on Friday, 31 July 2009 12:35
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Berkeley Lab researchers have produced a nanocrystal that can store carbon. The researchers have produced non-toxic magnesium oxide nanocrystals that efficiently emit blue light and could also play a role in the long-term storage of carbon dioxide.
Using an organometallic chemical synthesis route, scientists at the Molecular Foundry have created nanocrystals of the low-cost white mineral magnesium oxide. One of the most striking new characteristics of this process is that the nanocrystals glow blue when exposed to ultraviolet light.
The researchers are proposing that these new blue nanocrystals can be used in solid-state lighting (SSL), which makes use of light-emitting semiconductor materials. SSL provides light while consuming less energy for a longer life span than conventional lighting methods.
Solid-state lighting uses light emitting diodes (LEDs) or organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) as sources of illumination and these use red-, green-, and blue-emitting materials combined to create white light. Blue light emitters are difficult to come by and the new nanocrystals could be a candidate for use in LEDs or OLEDs.
Another promising use for these nanocrystals would be in carbon capture and storage for greenhouse gas emission reduction.
The magnesium oxide nanocrystals will be the subject of study by the Berkeley Lab’s Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) for Nanoscale Control of Geologic CO2.
One proposed was to capture and store carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which involves pumping captured carbon dioxide underground where it can form carbonate materials with the surrounding rock. The reaction needed to form carbonate needs mineral oxides such as magnesium oxide.
“These nanocrystals will serve as a test system for modeling the kinetics of dissolution and mineralization in a simulated fluid-rock reservoir, allowing us to probe a key pathway in carbon dioxide sequestration,” said Jeff Urban, a staff scientist in the Inorganic Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry who is also a member of the EFRC research team. “The geological minerals that fix magnesium into a stable carbonate are compositionally complex, but our nanocrystals will provide a simple model to mimic this intricate process.”
The Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRCs), premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Work at the Molecular Foundry was supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences within the DOE Office of Science.
- Katrice R. Jalbuena