Large-scale cauliflower-shaped hierarchical copper nanostructures for efficient photothermal conversion†
Efficient solar energy harvesting and photothermal conversion have essential importance for many practical applications. Here, we present a laser-induced cauliflower-shaped hierarchical surface nanostructure on a copper surface, which exhibits extremely high omnidirectional absorption efficiency over a broad electromagnetic spectral range from the UV to the near-infrared region. The measured average hemispherical absorptance is as high as 98% within the wavelength range of 200–800 nm, and the angle dependent specular reflectance stays below 0.1% within the 0–60° incident angle. Such a structured copper surface can exhibit an apparent heating up effect under the sunlight illumination. In the experiment of evaporating water, the structured surface yields an overall photothermal conversion efficiency over 60% under an illuminating solar power density of ∼1 kW m−2. The presented technology provides a cost-effective, reliable, and simple way for realizing broadband omnidirectional light absorptive metal surfaces for efficient solar energy harvesting and utilization, which is highly demanded in various light harvesting, anti-reflection, and photothermal conversion applications. Since the structure is directly formed by femtosecond laser writing, it is quite suitable for mass production and can be easily extended to a large surface area.