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Nanostack printing for materials research

Project description

Stacking the odds in favour of renewable energy

Harnessing the power of renewable energy will help mitigate climate change and its impact since it doesn't involve carbon dioxide emissions. There is just one drawback: energy storage. There needs to be a way to store excess energy gathered from the sun and wind. The EU-funded NANOSTACKS project has found a solution to overcome the difficulty of storing this energy in very large quantities and in high energy density. The solution is a novel screening method to find efficient fuel cells that rely on cost-efficient materials. It will use a robot to print battery, fuel cell and LED materials as well as conductors, isolators and diodes, and screen some 15 000 twin nanostacks per glass slide for function. According to the project, this new method will not only lead to novel energy materials but greatly advance materials research in general.


When compared to fossil fuels only one decisive disadvantage remains for electricity from solar cells and wind mills, namely the difficulty to store this energy in very large quantities and in high energy density. State of the art batteries have a low energy density, and, in addition, cannot handle the needed quantities of energy. In principle, fuel cells could store huge quantities of energy and in in high energy density, but these are not very efficient and, moreover, rely on expensive materials. We want to develop a novel screening method to find efficient fuel cells that rely on cheap materials. KIT developed a novel multi-material nano3D printer that generates ~40.000 nanostacks per glass slide with freely chosen sequential arrangements of printed nanolayers that are made of nanoparticles or organic materials. We want to use this robot to print conductors, isolators, diodes, battery-, fuel cell-, and LED-materials, and then screen ~15.000 twin-nanostacks per glass slide for function. We will start with diodes that are made of a ZnO layer on top of ITO nanoparticles. When positioned in between two capacitor plates, an AC current will drive electrons unidirectional through all of these nanostack-diodes from where they travel back through the adjacent twin nanostack. If this twin nanostack is a functional battery, reduced battery materials are identified in a scanner, while functional LED nanostacks identify themselves through emitted light. Functional LED- or battery-nanostacks will then be used to identify those nanostacks that work as a fuel cell. We think that this new method will advance materials research beyond the screening for novel energy materials.

Call for proposal


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Sub call




Net EU contribution
€ 1 400 000,00
Kaiserstrasse 12
76131 Karlsruhe

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Baden-Württemberg Karlsruhe Karlsruhe, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 23 750,00

Participants (4)