Titania Nanotubes Go Commercial

November 13, 2012

Seven years ago, physics pro­fessor Latika Mennon’s first grad­uate stu­dent said he wanted to “change the world.” She knew of her exper­tise in making nanoporous alu­minum oxide and believed an anal­o­gous system with tita­nium dioxide, or titania, could be useful in the devel­op­ment of fuel cells and solar panels.

“Alu­minum is more like an insu­lator,” Menon explained. “For solar cells you need semi­con­duc­tors. Titania is a semiconductor.”

Using simple elec­tro­chem­ical methods, Menon’s team devel­oped a mate­rial made of neatly aligned, hollow, titania nan­otubes. “It’s an array of tubes,” she said. “Just like lots of cylin­ders, or test tubes, arranged in parallel.”

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