The Shining

New types of materials that change their shape when exposed to light could lead to advances in hydrogen storage, solar energy, carbon dioxide capture and other fields critical to the nation’s economy. The W. M. Keck Foundation has awarded a $1 million research grant to OSU’s School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering and to Ohio University.

“We’re excited about the possible applications of these materials,” says Brady Gibbons, an associate professor of mechanical engineering. “They can absorb and store hydrogen like a sponge, but also squeeze themselves when light shines on them.”

One application is the hydrogen fuel cell, one of the most promising technologies for automobiles of the future. It produces only water as a byproduct when it generates electricity, but hydrogen storage is a primary challenge in meeting auto industry requirements.

Other collaborators include OSU professors Rob Stone, Alex Greaney and Irem Tumer and professor Jeffrey Rack at Ohio University.