Scholarly Works, Center for Energy Harvesting Materials and Systems (CEHMS)

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  • Probe of the excitonic transitions and lifetimes in quasi-2D organic-inorganic halide perovskites
    Magill, Brenden A.; Wang, Kai; McGill, Stephen; Stanton, Christopher J.; Priya, Shashank; Khodaparast, Giti A. (AIP Publishing, 2022-01-01)
    Traditional organic-inorganic halide perovskites (OIHPs), in which perovskites layers are separated by an organic spacer material, have been mainly explored for photovoltaics devices, but they also offer promises for nonlinear optics and quantum light applications. These attributes include (a) high quantum efficiency, (b) large binding energy of excitons in low-dimensional structures, (c) polarons of long coherence times at room temperature, and (d) a large spin-orbit coupling. OIHP systems can be engineered to have photoluminescence (PL) emissions from UV to IR regions, in addition to power conversion efficiencies, in excess of 24%. This class of materials offers broad tunability of its properties, through controlling the number of atomic layers in the quantum well, tuning the organic spacer thickness, or even engineering the composition with exotic dopants. In this work, we present PL and time-resolved PL measurements of quasi-2D BA(2)PbI(4) and provide new insights on the temperature dependence of their excitonic dynamics and fine structures of their PL emissions. We observed long lifetimes, which can result from the formation of large polarons, screening the Coulomb interactions of the charge carriers and reducing the scattering of the carriers with charge defects.
  • Optical properties of Pb0.52Zr0.48TiO3 nanorod arrays: second harmonic generation and multiphoton carrier dynamics
    Mudiyanselage, Rathsara R. H. H.; Burton, John; Magill, Brenden A.; McMillan, Kiara; Gagliano, Gabriella; Morral, Ada J.; Kang, Min Gyu; Kang, Han Byul; Priya, Shashank; Stanton, Christopher J.; Khodaparast, Giti A. (2021-07)
    Nonlinear optical properties of poled and unpoled, lead zirconate-titanate (Pb0.52Zr0.48TiO3) nanorod arrays, grown on Pt-coated Si with similar to 200 nm diameter and similar to 600 nm height, were investigated. Clear signatures of second harmonic generations (SHG), from 490-525 nm (2.38-2.53 eV) at room temperature, were observed. Furthermore, time resolved differential reflectivity measurements were performed to study dynamical properties of photoexcited carriers in the range of 690-1000 nm where multiphoton processes were responsible for the photo-excitations. We compared this excitation scheme, which is sensitive mainly to the surface states, to when the photoexcited energy (similar to 3.1 eV) was close to the band gap of the nanorods. Our results offer promises for employing these nanostructures in nonlinear photonic applications.
  • Design, Theoretical, and Experimental Investigation of Tensile-Strained Germanium Quantum-Well Laser Structure
    Hudait, Mantu K.; Murphy-Armando, Felipe; Saladukha, Dzianis; Clavel, Michael B.; Goley, Patrick S.; Maurya, Deepam; Bhattacharya, Shuvodip; Ochalski, Tomasz J. (American Chemical Society, 2021-10-14)
    Strain and band gap engineered epitaxial germanium (ϵ-Ge) quantum-well (QW) laser structures were investigated on GaAs substrates theoretically and experimentally for the first time. In this design, we exploit the ability of an InGaAs layer to simultaneously provide tensile strain in Ge (0.7-1.96%) and sufficient optical and carrier confinement. The direct band-to-band gain, threshold current density (Jth), and loss mechanisms that dominate in the ϵ-Ge QW laser structure were calculated using first-principles-based 30-band k·p electronic structure theory, at injected carrier concentrations from 3 × 1018 to 9 × 1019 cm-3. The higher strain in the ϵ-Ge QW increases the gain at higher wavelengths; however, a decreasing thickness is required by higher strain due to critical layer thickness for avoiding strain relaxation. In addition, we predict that a Jth of 300 A/cm2 can be reduced to <10 A/cm2 by increasing strain from 0.2% to 1.96% in ϵ-Ge lasing media. The measured room-temperature photoluminescence spectroscopy demonstrated direct band gap optical emission, from the conduction band at the Γ-valley to heavy-hole (0.6609 eV) from 1.6% tensile-strained Ge/In0.24Ga0.76As heterostructure grown by molecular beam epitaxy, is in agreement with the value calculated using 30-band k·p theory. The detailed plan-view transmission electron microscopic (TEM) analysis of 0.7% and 1.2% tensile-strained ϵ-Ge/InGaAs structures exhibited well-controlled dislocations within each ϵ-Ge layer. The measured dislocation density is below 4 × 106 cm-2 for the 1.2% ϵ-Ge layer, which is an upper bound, suggesting the superior ϵ-Ge material quality. Structural analysis of the experimentally realistic 1.95% biaxially strained In0.28Ga0.72As/13 nm ϵ-Ge/In0.28Ga0.72As QW structure demonstrated a strained Ge/In0.28Ga0.72As heterointerface with minimal relaxation using X-ray and cross-sectional TEM analysis. Therefore, our monolithic integration of a strained Ge QW laser structure on GaAs and ultimately the transfer of the process to the Si substrate via an InGa(Al)As/III-V buffer architecture would provide a significant step toward photonic technology based on strained Ge on a Si platform.
  • A review on the modeling and validation of biomass pyrolysis with a focus on product yield and composition
    Xia, Changlei; Cai, Liping; Zhang, Haifeng; Zuo, Lei; Shi, Sheldon Q.; Lam, Su Shiung (2021)
    Modeling is regarded as a suitable tool to improve biomass pyrolysis in terms of efficiency, product yield, and controllability. However, it is crucial to develop advanced models to estimate products' yield and composition as functions of biomass type/characteristics and process conditions. Despite many developed models, most of them suffer from insufficient validation due to the complexity in determining the chemical compounds and their quantity. To this end, the present paper reviewed the modeling and verification of products derived from biomass pyrolysis. Besides, the possible solutions towards more accurate modeling of biomass pyrolysis were discussed. First of all, the paper commenced reviewing current models and validating methods of biomass pyrolysis. Afterward, the influences of biomass characteristics, particle size, and heat transfer on biomass pyrolysis, particle motion, reaction kinetics, product prediction, experimental validation, current gas sensors, and potential applications were reviewed and discussed comprehensively. There are some difficulties with using current pyrolysis gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS) for modeling and validation purposes due to its bulkiness, fragility, slow detection, and high cost. On account of this, the applications of Py-GC/MS in industries are limited, particularly for online product yield and composition measurements. In the final stage, a recommendation was provided to utilize high-temperature sensors with high potentials to precisely validate the models for product yield and composition (especially CO, CO2, and H-2) during biomass pyrolysis. (C) 2021 BRTeam. All rights reserved.
  • High-Efficiency Skutterudite Modules at a Low Temperature Gradient
    Li, Wenjie; Stokes, David; Poudel, Bed; Saparamadu, Udara; Nozariasbmarz, Amin; Kang, Han Byul; Priya, Shashank (MDPI, 2019-11-11)
    Thermoelectric skutterudite materials have been widely investigated for their potential application in mid-temperature waste heat recovery that has not been efficiently utilized A large amount of research has focused on developing materials with a high thermoelectric figure of merit (zT). However, the translation of material properties to device performance has limited success. Here, we demonstrate single-filling n-type Yb0.25Fe0.25Co3.75Sb12 and multi-filling La0.7Ti0.1Ga0.1Fe2.7Co1.3Sb12 skutterudites with a maximum zT of ~1.3 at 740 K and ~0.97 at 760 K. The peak zT of skutterudites usually occurs above 800 K, but, as shown here, the shift in peak zT to lower temperatures is beneficial for enhancing conversion efficiency at a lower hot-side temperature. In this work, we have demonstrated that the Fe-substitution significantly reduces the thermal conductivity of n-type skutterudite, closer to p-type skutterudite thermal conductivity, resulting in a module that is more compatible to operate at elevated temperatures. A uni-couple skutterudite module was fabricated using a molybdenum electrode and Ga–Sn liquid metal as the thermal interface material. A conversion efficiency of 7.27% at a low temperature gradient of 366 K was achieved, which is among the highest efficiencies reported in the literature at this temperature gradient. These results highlight that peak zT shift and optimized module design can improve conversion efficiency of thermoelectric modules at a low temperature gradient.
  • Piezoelectric and Magnetoelectric Thick Films for Fabricating Power Sources in Wireless Sensor Nodes
    Priya, Shashank; Ryu, Jungho; Park, Chee-Sung; Oliver, Josiah; Choi, Jong-Jin; Park, Dong-Soo (MDPI, 2009-08-17)
    In this manuscript, we review the progress made in the synthesis of thick film-based piezoelectric and magnetoelectric structures for harvesting energy from mechanical vibrations and magnetic field. Piezoelectric compositions in the system Pb(Zr,Ti)O₃– Pb(Zn₁/₃Nb₂/₃)O₃ (PZNT) have shown promise for providing enhanced efficiency due to higher energy density and thus form the base of transducers designed for capturing the mechanical energy. Laminate structures of PZNT with magnetostrictive ferrite materials provide large magnitudes of magnetoelectric coupling and are being targeted to capture the stray magnetic field energy. We analyze the models used to predict the performance of the energy harvesters and present a full system description.
  • Anisotropic self-biased dual-phase low frequency magneto-mechano-electric energy harvesters with giant power densities
    Patil, Deepak Rajaram; Zhou, Yuan; Kang, Ju-Eun; Sharpes, Nathan; Jeong, Dae-Young; Kim, Yang-Do; Kim, Kee Hoon; Priya, Shashank; Ryu, Jungho (AIP Publishing, 2014-04-02)
    We report the physical behavior of self-biased multi-functional magneto-mechanoelectric (MME) laminates simultaneously excited by magnetic and/or mechanical vibrations. The MME laminates composed of Ni and single crystal fiber composite exhibited strong ME coupling under Hdc = 0 Oe at both low frequency and at resonance frequency. Depending on the magnetic field direction with respect to the crystal orientation, the energy harvester showed strong in-plane anisotropy in the output voltage and was found to generate open circuit output voltage of 20Vpp and power density of 59.78 mW/Oe² g² cm³ under weak magnetic field of 1 Oe and mechanical vibration of 30 mg, at frequency of 21 Hz across 1 MΩ resistance.
  • Ultra-high performance wearable thermoelectric coolers with less materials
    Kishore, Ravi Anant; Nozariasbmarz, Amin; Poudel, Bed; Sanghadasa, Mohan; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2019-04-16)
    Thermoelectric coolers are attracting significant attention for replacing age-old cooling and refrigeration devices. Localized cooling by wearable thermoelectric coolers will decrease the usage of traditional systems, thereby reducing global warming and providing savings on energy costs. Since human skin as well as ambient air is a poor conductor of heat, wearable thermoelectric coolers operate under huge thermally resistive environment. The external thermal resistances greatly influence thermoelectric material behavior, device design, and device performance, which presents a fundamental challenge in achieving high efficiency for on-body applications. Here, we examine the combined effect of heat source/sink thermal resistances and thermoelectric material properties on thermoelectric cooler performance. Efficient thermoelectric coolers demonstrated here can cool the human skin up to 8.2 degrees C below the ambient temperature (170% higher cooling than commercial modules). Cost-benefit analysis shows that cooling over material volume for our optimized thermoelectric cooler is 500% higher than that of the commercial modules.
  • Giant piezoelectric voltage coefficient in grain-oriented modified PbTiO3 material
    Yan, Yongke; Zhou, Jie E.; Maurya, Deepam; Wang, Yu U.; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2016-10-11)
    A rapid surge in the research on piezoelectric sensors is occurring with the arrival of the Internet of Things. Single-phase oxide piezoelectric materials with giant piezoelectric voltage coefficient (g, induced voltage under applied stress) and high Curie temperature (T-c) are crucial towards providing desired performance for sensing, especially under harsh environmental conditions. Here, we report a grain-oriented (with 95% <001> texture) modified PbTiO3 ceramic that has a high T-c (364 degrees C) and an extremely large g(33) (115 x 10(-3) Vm N-1) in comparison with other known single-phase oxide materials. Our results reveal that self-polarization due to grain orientation along the spontaneous polarization direction plays an important role in achieving large piezoelectric response in a domain motion-confined material. The phase field simulations confirm that the large piezoelectric voltage coefficient g(33) originates from maximized piezoelectric strain coefficient d(33) and minimized dielectric permittivity epsilon(33) in [001]-textured PbTiO3 ceramics where domain wall motions are absent.
  • Colossal tunability in high frequency magnetoelectric voltage tunable inductors
    Yan, Yongke; Geng, Liwei D.; Tan, Yaohua; Ma, Jianhua; Zhang, Lujie; Sanghadasa, Mohan; Ngo, Khai D. T.; Ghosh, Avik W.; Wang, Yu U.; Priya, Shashank (2018-11-27)
    The electrical modulation of magnetization through the magnetoelectric effect provides a great opportunity for developing a new generation of tunable electrical components. Magnetoelectric voltage tunable inductors (VTIs) are designed to maximize the electric field control of permeability. In order to meet the need for power electronics, VTIs operating at high frequency with large tunability and low loss are required. Here we demonstrate magnetoelectric VTIs that exhibit remarkable high inductance tunability of over 750% up to 10 MHz, completely covering the frequency range of state-of-the-art power electronics. This breakthrough is achieved based on a concept of magnetocrystalline anisotropy (MCA) cancellation, predicted in a solid solution of nickel ferrite and cobalt ferrite through first-principles calculations. Phase field model simulations are employed to observe the domain-level strain-mediated coupling between magnetization and polarization. The model reveals small MCA facilitates the magnetic domain rotation, resulting in larger permeability sensitivity and inductance tunability.
  • Giant strain with ultra-low hysteresis and high temperature stability in grain oriented lead-free K0.5Bi0.5TiO3-BaTiO3-Na0.5Bi0.5TiO3 piezoelectric materials
    Maurya, Deepam; Zhou, Yuan; Wang, Yaojin; Yan, Yongke; Li, Jiefang; Viehland, Dwight D.; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2015-02-26)
    We synthesized grain-oriented lead-free piezoelectric materials in (K0.5Bi0.5TiO3-BaTiO3-xNa(0.5)Bi(0.5)TiO(3) (KBT-BT-NBT) system with high degree of texturing along the [001]c (c-cubic) crystallographic orientation. We demonstrate giant field induced strain (similar to 0.48%) with an ultra-low hysteresis along with enhanced piezoelectric response (d(33) similar to 190pC/N) and high temperature stability (similar to 160 degrees C). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM) results demonstrate smaller size highly ordered domain structure in grain-oriented specimen relative to the conventional polycrystalline ceramics. The grain oriented specimens exhibited a high degree of non-180 degrees domain switching, in comparison to the randomly axed ones. These results indicate the effective solution to the lead-free piezoelectric materials.
  • Lead-free epitaxial ferroelectric material integration on semiconducting (100) Nb-doped SrTiO3 for low-power non-volatile memory and efficient ultraviolet ray detection
    Kundu, Souvik; Clavel, Michael B.; Biswas, Pranab; Chen, Bo; Song, Hyun-Cheol; Kumar, Prashant; Halder, Nripendra N.; Hudait, Mantu K.; Banerji, Pallab; Sanghadasa, Mohan; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2015-07-23)
    We report lead-free ferroelectric based resistive switching non-volatile memory (NVM) devices with epitaxial (1-x)BaTiO3-xBiFeO(3) (x = 0.725) (BT-BFO) film integrated on semiconducting (100) Nb (0.7%) doped SrTiO3 (Nb: STO) substrates. The piezoelectric force microscopy (PFM) measurement at room temperature demonstrated ferroelectricity in the BT-BFO thin film. PFM results also reveal the repeatable polarization inversion by poling, manifesting its potential for read-write operation in NVM devices. The electroforming-free and ferroelectric polarization coupled electrical behaviour demonstrated excellent resistive switching with high retention time, cyclic endurance, and low set/reset voltages. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was utilized to determine the band alignment at the BT-BFO and Nb: STO heterojunction, and it exhibited staggered band alignment. This heterojunction is found to behave as an efficient ultraviolet photo-detector with low rise and fall time. The architecture also demonstrates half-wave rectification under low and high input signal frequencies, where the output distortion is minimal. The results provide avenue for an electrical switch that can regulate the pixels in low or high frequency images. Combined this work paves the pathway towards designing future generation low-power ferroelectric based microelectronic devices by merging both electrical and photovoltaic properties of BT-BFO materials.
  • A new method for achieving enhanced dielectric response over a wide temperature range
    Maurya, Deepam; Sun, Fu-Chang; Alpay, S. Pamir; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2015-10-19)
    We report a novel approach for achieving high dielectric response over a wide temperature range. In this approach, multilayer ceramic heterostructures with constituent compositions having strategically tuned Curie points (T-C) were designed and integrated with varying electrical connectivity. Interestingly, these multilayer structures exhibited different dielectric behavior in series and parallel configuration due to variations in electrical boundary conditions resulting in the differences in the strength of the electrostatic coupling. The results are explained using nonlinear thermodynamic model taking into account electrostatic interlayer interaction. We believe that present work will have huge significance in design of high performance ceramic capacitors.
  • Room temperature ferromagnetic resonance in hetero-epitaxial BTO-BFO/LSMO magnetoelectric composite
    Madon, Benjamin; Kang, Han Byul; Kang, Min-Gyu; Maurya, Deepam; Magill, Brenden A.; Alves, Marcos J.P.; Wegrowe, Jean-Eric; Drouhin, Henri-Jean; Priya, Shashank; Khodaparast, Giti A. (American Institute of Physics, 2018-10-30)
    We synthesized epitaxial BTO-BFO heterostructure with decreased leakage and simultaneously improved the multiferroic properties. This study provides new direction for ferromagnetic resonance studies, in high quality BTO-BFO films grown on LSMO. We observed small Gilbert damping (=0.004) and the absence of large inhomogeneous broadening, in a film with 80 nm thickness of BTO-BFO on LSMO (110). This fact offers opportunities for employing this material system for spin transfer in multifunctional materials where controlling magnetization by a flow of spin angular momentum, or spin current, is crucial toward developing nanoscale spin-based memory and devices. Magnetic insulators, such as BTO-BFO on LSMO, are potentially excellent candidates for pure spin current without the existence of charge current.
  • Thermo-Magneto-Electric Generator Arrays for Active Heat Recovery System
    Chun, Jinsung; Song, Hyun-Cheol; Kang, Min-Gyu; Kang, Han Byul; Kishore, Ravi Anant; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2017-02-01)
    Continued emphasis on development of thermal cooling systems is being placed that can cycle low grade heat. Examples include solar powered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and data storage servers. The power efficiency of solar module degrades at elevated temperature, thereby, necessitating the need for heat extraction system. Similarly, data centres in wireless computing system are facing increasing efficiency challenges due to high power consumption associated with managing the waste heat. We provide breakthrough in addressing these problems by developing thermo-magneto-electric generator (TMEG) arrays, composed of soft magnet and piezoelectric polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) cantilever. TMEG can serve dual role of extracting the waste heat and converting it into useable electricity. Near room temperature second-order magnetic phase transition in soft magnetic material, gadolinium, was employed to obtain mechanical vibrations on the PVDF cantilever under small thermal gradient. TMEGs were shown to achieve high vibration frequency at small temperature gradients, thereby, demonstrating effective heat transfer.
  • Compositionally Graded Multilayer Ceramic Capacitors
    Song, Hyun-Cheol; Zhou, Jie E.; Maurya, Deepam; Yan, Yongke; Wang, Yu U.; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2017-09-27)
    Multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCC) are widely used in consumer electronics. Here, we provide a transformative method for achieving high dielectric response and tunability over a wide temperature range through design of compositionally graded multilayer (CGML) architecture. Compositionally graded MLCCs were found to exhibit enhanced dielectric tunability (70%) along with small dielectric losses (< 2.5%) over the required temperature ranges specified in the standard industrial classifications. The compositional grading resulted in generation of internal bias field which enhanced the tunability due to increased nonlinearity. The electric field tunability of MLCCs provides an important avenue for design of miniature filters and power converters.
  • Correlation between tunability and anisotropy in magnetoelectric voltage tunable inductor (VTI)
    Yan, Yongke; Geng, Liwei D.; Zhang, Lujie; Gao, Xiangyu; Gollapudi, Sreenivasulu; Song, Hyun-Cheol; Dong, Shuxiang; Sanghadasa, Mohan; Ngo, Khai D. T.; Wang, Yu U.; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2017-11-22)
    Electric field modulation of magnetic properties via magnetoelectric coupling in composite materials is of fundamental and technological importance for realizing tunable energy efficient electronics. Here we provide foundational analysis on magnetoelectric voltage tunable inductor (VTI) that exhibits extremely large inductance tunability of up to 1150% under moderate electric fields. This field dependence of inductance arises from the change of permeability, which correlates with the stress dependence of magnetic anisotropy. Through combination of analytical models that were validated by experimental results, comprehensive understanding of various anisotropies on the tunability of VTI is provided. Results indicate that inclusion of magnetic materials with low magnetocrystalline anisotropy is one of the most effective ways to achieve high VTI tunability. This study opens pathway towards design of tunable circuit components that exhibit field-dependent electronic behavior.
  • Optimization of segmented thermoelectric generator using Taguchi and ANOVA techniques
    Kishore, Ravi Anant; Sanghadasa, Mohan; Priya, Shashank (Springer Nature, 2017-12-01)
    Recent studies have demonstrated that segmented thermoelectric generators (TEGs) can operate over large thermal gradient and thus provide better performance (reported efficiency up to 11%) as compared to traditional TEGs, comprising of single thermoelectric (TE) material. However, segmented TEGs are still in early stages of development due to the inherent complexity in their design optimization and manufacturability. In this study, we demonstrate physics based numerical techniques along with Analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Taguchi optimization method for optimizing the performance of segmented TEGs. We have considered comprehensive set of design parameters, such as geometrical dimensions of p-n legs, height of segmentation, hot-side temperature, and load resistance, in order to optimize output power and efficiency of segmented TEGs. Using the state-of-the-art TE material properties and appropriate statistical tools, we provide near-optimum TEG configuration with only 25 experiments as compared to 3125 experiments needed by the conventional optimization methods. The effect of environmental factors on the optimization of segmented TEGs is also studied. Taguchi results are validated against the results obtained using traditional full factorial optimization technique and a TEG configuration for simultaneous optimization of power and efficiency is obtained.
  • Biomimetic and Live Medusae Reveal the Mechanistic Advantages of a Flexible Bell Margin
    Colin, Sean P.; Costello, John H.; Dabiri, John O.; Villanueva, Alex A.; Blottman, John B.; Gemmell, Brad J.; Priya, Shashank (PLOS, 2012-11-07)
    Flexible bell margins are characteristic components of rowing medusan morphologies and are expected to contribute towards their high propulsive efficiency. However, the mechanistic basis of thrust augmentation by flexible propulsors remained unresolved, so the impact of bell margin flexibility on medusan swimming has also remained unresolved. We used biomimetic robotic jellyfish vehicles to elucidate that propulsive thrust enhancement by flexible medusan bell margins relies upon fluid dynamic interactions between entrained flows at the inflexion point of the exumbrella and flows expelled from under the bell. Coalescence of flows from these two regions resulted in enhanced fluid circulation and, therefore, thrust augmentation for flexible margins of both medusan vehicles and living medusae. Using particle image velocimetry (PIV) data we estimated pressure fields to demonstrate a mechanistic basis of enhanced flows associated with the flexible bell margin. Performance of vehicles with flexible margins was further enhanced by vortex interactions that occur during bell expansion. Hydrodynamic and performance similarities between robotic vehicles and live animals demonstrated that the propulsive advantages of flexible margins found in nature can be emulated by human-engineered propulsors. Although medusae are simple animal models for description of this process, these results may contribute towards understanding the performance of flexible margins among other animal lineages.
  • Discovery and ramifications of incidental Magnéli phase generation and release from industrial coal-burning
    Yang, Yi; Chen, Bo; Hower, James C.; Schindler, Michael; Winkler, Christopher; Brandt, Jessica E.; Di Giulio, Richard T.; Ge, Jianping; Liu, Min; Fu, Yuhao; Zhang, Lijun; Chen, Yu-ru; Priya, Shashank; Hochella, Michael F. Jr. (Nature Publishing Group, 2017-01-12)
    Coal, as one of the most economic and abundant energy sources, remains the leading fuel for producing electricity worldwide. Yet, burning coal produces more global warming CO2 relative to all other fossil fuels, and it is a major contributor to atmospheric particulate matter known to have a deleterious respiratory and cardiovascular impact in humans, especially in China and India. Here we have discovered that burning coal also produces large quantities of otherwise rare Magneli phases (Ti; x; O2x–1 with 4 ≤ x ≤ 9) from TiO2 minerals naturally present in coal. This provides a new tracer for tracking solid-state emissions worldwide from industrial coal-burning. In its first toxicity testing, we have also shown that nanoscale Magneli phases have potential toxicity pathways that are not photoactive like TiO2 phases, but instead seem to be biologically active without photostimulation. In the future, these phases should be thoroughly tested for their toxicity in the human lung. Solid-state emissions from coal burning remain an environmental concern. Here, the authors have found that TiO2 minerals present in coal are converted into titanium suboxides during burning, and initial biotoxicity screening suggests that further testing is needed to look into human lung consequences.