Solar-driven vaporization is a sustainable solution to water and energy scarcity. However, most of the present evaporators are still suffering from inefficient utilization of converted thermal energy. Herein, a universal sandwich membrane strategy is demonstrated by confining the hierarchical porous carbon cells in two energy barriers to obtain a high-efficiency evaporator with a rapid water evaporation rate of 1.87 kg m−2 h−1 under 1 sun illumination, which is among the highest performance for carbon-based and wood-based evaporators. The significantly enhanced evaporation rate is mainly attributed to the inherently optimized porous evaporation mode derived from the hierarchical hollow structures of pollen carbon cells, and the synergistically regulated water transporting and thermal management performance of the sandwich membrane. Moreover, the constructed sandwich membrane also exhibits excellent self-regenerating performance in simulated seawater and high salinity water. The developed device can maintain an average evaporation rate of 4.3 L m−2 day−1 in a 25 day consecutive outdoor test.
- energy confinement
- hierarchical carbon cells
- sandwich photothermal membranes
- solar desalination
- steam generation