Autonomous MXene-PVDF actuator for flexible solar trackers

by Shaobo Tu, Lujia Xu, Jehad K. El-Demellawi, Hanfeng Liang, Xiangming Xu, Sergei Lopatin, Stefaan De Wolf, Xixiang Zhang, Husam N. Alshareef
Article Year: 2020 DOI:


Tu, S., Xu, L., El-Demellawi, J.K., Liang, H., Xu, X., Lopatin, S., De Wolf, S., Zhang, X., and Alshareff, H.N., (2020) Autonomous MXene-PVDF actuator for flexible solar trackers. Elsevier


We report a novel flexible solar tracking system based on a photothermal-thermomechanical (PT-TM) actuator comprised of Ti3C2Tx MXene and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) bilayer. The actuation function of the proposed device originates from photothermal and  surface plasmon-assisted effects in  MXenes, coupled with thermo-mechanical deformation of in-plane aligned PVDF polymer. Two types of solar tracking modes are evaluated based on the experimental deformation behavior of the PT-TM actuator. We find that the uniaxial East-West solar tracking option increases the overall energy intensity reaching the solar module by over 30%, in comparison with the optimized tilting-controlled mode. We also demonstrate the thermally driven self-oscillation of the MXene- PVDF device, which may have promising potential for optically and thermally driven soft robotics. The PT-TM actuator devices display robust mechanical strength and durability, with no noticeable degradation in their performance after more than 1000 cycles. 


Surface plasmons Photothermal-thermomechanical actuator Solar tracking PV efficiency Output power