Patterned Surfaces for Solar-Driven Interfacial Evaporation

Solar-driven interfacial evaporation, as one of the most effective ways to convert and utilize solar energy, has attracted lot of interest recently. Most of the previous research studies, however, mainly focused on nonpatterned solar absorbers by improving the structural and chemical characteristics of the solar absorbers used in the interfacial evaporation systems. In this work, we investigated the influence of patterned surface on the evaporation performance of solar absorbers. The patterned surfaces studied, which include black patterns and white patterns, were achieved by selectively printing carbon black on the air-laid paper. Such a design leads to the lateral temperature differences between adjacent patterns of the solar absorber under solar illumination. The temperature differences result in the lateral heat and mass transfer between those patterns, which can effectively accelerate solar-driven vapor generation. With similar patterns and same coverage of carbon black, the increase in the circumference of the surface patterns leads to the increase in the evaporation performance. Additionally, we found that the evaporation performance can be optimized through the design of surface patterns, which demonstrates the potential in reducing the usage of the light-absorbing materials in the solar absorber. The findings in this work not only expand the understanding of the interfacial evaporation systems but also offer additional guidelines in designing interfacial evaporation systems.