Solar absorber material and system designs for photothermal water vaporization towards clean water and energy production
Photothermal materials with broad solar absorption and high conversion efficiency have recently attracted significant interest. They are becoming a fast-growing research focus in the area of solar-driven vaporization for clean water production. The parallel development of thermal management strategies through both material and system designs has further improved the overall efficiency of solar vaporization. Collectively, this green solar-driven water vaporization technology has regained attention as a sustainable solution for water scarcity. In this review, we will report the recent progress in solar absorber material design based on various photothermal conversion mechanisms, evaluate the prerequisites in terms of optical, thermal and wetting properties for efficient solar-driven water vaporization, classify the systems based on different photothermal evaporation configurations and discuss other correlated applications in the areas of desalination, water purification and energy generation. This article aims to provide a comprehensive review on the current development in efficient photothermal evaporation, and suggest directions to further enhance its overall efficiency through the judicious choice of materials and system designs, while synchronously capitalizing waste energy to realize concurrent clean water and energy production.