Carbon nanotube thin films for active noise cancellation, solar energy harvesting, and energy storage in building windows

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Carbon nanotube thin films for active noise cancellation, solar energy harvesting, and energy storage in building windows


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This research explores the application of carbon nanotube (CNT) films for active noise cancellation, solar energy harvesting and energy storage in building windows. The CNT-based components developed herein can be integrated into a solar-powered active noise control system for a building window. First, the use of a transparent acoustic transducer as both an invisible speaker for auxiliary audio playback and for active noise cancellation is accomplished in this work. Several challenges related to active noise cancellation in the window are addressed. These include secondary path estimation and directional cancellation of noise so as to preserve auxiliary audio and internal sounds while preventing transmission of external noise into the building. Solar energy can be harvested at a low rate of power over long durations while acoustic sound cancellation requires short durations of high power. A supercapacitor based energy storage system is therefore considered for the window. Using CNTs as electrode materials, two generations of flexible, thin, and fully solid-state supercapacitors are developed that can be integrated into the window frame. Both generations consist of carbon nanotube films coated on supporting substrates as electrodes and a solid-state polymer gel layer for the electrolyte. The first generation is a single-cell parallel-plate supercapacitor with a working voltage of 3 Volts. Its energy density is competitive with commercially available supercapacitors (which use liquid electrolyte). For many applications that will require higher working voltage, the second-generation multi-cell supercapacitor is developed. A six-cell device with a working voltage as high as 12 Volts is demonstrated here. Unlike the first generation's 3D structure, the second generation has a novel planar (2D) architecture, which makes it easy to integrate multiple cells into a thin and flexible supercapacitor. The multi-cell planar supercapacitor has energy density exceeding that of other planar supercapacitors in literature by more than one order of magnitude. All-solution fabrication processes were developed for both generations to achieve economical and scalable production. In addition to carbon nanotubes, nickel/nickel oxide core-shell nanowires were also studied as electrode materials for supercapacitors, for which high specific capacitance but low working voltage were obtained. Semi-transparent solar cells with carbon nanotube counter electrodes are developed to power the active noise cancellation system. They can be directly mounted on the glass panes and become part of the home window. The 2.67% efficiency achieved is higher than the 1.8% efficiency required for harvesting adequate energy to cancel noise of 70dB Day-Night-Level, which impacts on a north-facing window. In summary, this project develops several fundamental technologies that together can contribute to a solar-powered active noise cancellation system for a building window. At the same time, since the component technologies being developed are fundamental, it is also likely that they will have wider applications in other domains beyond building windows.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2014. Major: Mechanical Engineering. Advisor: Dr. Rajesh Rajamani. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 114 pages.

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Hu, Shan. (2014). Carbon nanotube thin films for active noise cancellation, solar energy harvesting, and energy storage in building windows. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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