During the summer, I had the honor to work in Professor Yang’s lab with the mentor and guidance of a senior PhD student, Songnan Zhang, on the research of “environmentally responsive, water harvesting and self-cooling building envelopes”.
In this research, we look at fog-harvesting for water collection and aim to design a kirigami pattern to enhance fog-harvesting. The most widely used technology for collecting fog now is large mesh structures, but its water collecting efficiency is only of 2-5%. We introduced kirigami – the art of paper cutting – to fog-harvesting and tested many variations of our design to try to find the optimum pattern. With kirigami patters, we increased the area of water condensation comparing to the mesh structure and introduced geometric shapes that would help with water condensation. We also engineered the wettability (hydrophobic or hydrophilic) of the surface to enhance water condensation rate and transportation rate. We have tested over fifty different designs and have found the best pattern which could increase the amount of water collected in an hour by 200% comparing to the plain sample.
During this ten weeks, I have learned not only a lot about the topic I was researching on, but also a lot about how to conduct a research: how to design an experiment; how to test samples in an efficient and logistic way; how to keep adjusting the procedure as the research goes on; how to communicate the result of one’s research clearly. These are techniques that would keep benefiting me as I continue my path as a STEM student. I am very grateful for this opportunity and this experience.