Manufacturing for Space and Energy Generation Applications

Space exploration and energy generation using renewables both benefit from new manufacturing paradigms. In these applications, use of local resources is emphasized, and optimization of manufacturing to leverage available resources is critical. Here, we are pursuing a range of projects to leverage innovations in materials, processes, and device structures to achieve these goals.

Compact, Multifunctional Integrated Device for Mars in-Situ Propellant Production

Creating methane as a fuel for return-space missions from Mars could help enable sustainable space travel by significantly reducing on-Earth carbon production. This project aims at developing an In-Situ Resource Utilization system that would use Mars’ atmospheric CO2 with hydrogen from regolith water would enable the production of methane. The project includes development, optimization, and fabrication of compact and integrated devices simulating an ISRU system on the Martian atmosphere.

Affiliated member
Biruktait Lemecho

Crystalline zeolites, the functional carbon capture material extractable from Martian regolith

Plasmonic-Assisted Water Splitting for Photoelectrochemical Reduction of Hydrogen

A promising method to create globally sustainable hydrogen fuel, photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems use sunlight to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. This project aims at combining new catalysts and solar absorbers with surface-plasmon polaritons to help drive and activate the PEC reduction reaction, electrolyzing hydrogen ions into hydrogen gas. The proposed device would use only earth-abundant materials and large-scale synthesis techniques for the production of low-cost integrated PEC electrodes.

Affiliated member
Kyle Haas

Nanostructured silicon refracting light

Copper-Silver Core-Shell Nanoparticles for Low-Cost Electrode Replacement Pastes.

Copper-silver core-shell nanoparticles as the new-generation conductive filler for screen-printed conducting applications

This work addresses a significant problem impacting the photovoltaic industry – the need to replace expensive silver pastes used for electrical contacts with a low-cost alternative that can deliver high electrical and optical performances. We’ve been able to develop novel silver-covered-copper nanoparticles and formulate them into conductive pastes with high performances on par with commercial silver paste while using 40% less silver by weight. This alternative conductive paste has industry-ready adaptability for photovoltaics and printed conductors.

Affiliated member
Mengmeng Deng