Abstract Harvesting solar energy for steam generation has been widely applied in processes, such as sterilization, water purification, sea water desalination, and electricity generation. It has been found that a nanoparticle-modified membrane (NPM) can directly convert incoming solar energy into thermal energy in a short time period. In this work, broadband core–shell Ag@TiO 2 nanoparticles (NPs) having significant larger absorbance were synthesized. Flexible membranes using the deposition of the synthesized NPs were fabricated and floated on the surface of water to enhance the water evaporation. The effects of the density of deposited NPs and the solar irradiance on the evaporation performance were systematically investigated. Results showed that under 5 sun (1 sun = 1 kW/m 2 ) irradiation, the NPM obtained the highest evaporation capacity together with a considerable evaporation efficiency (52.7%) for NPs deposition of 1.0 g/m 2 . In addition, an evaporative efficiency of up to 68.6% was attained under the solar irradiance of 1 sun. On the other hand, most of the heat lost was transferred into the bulk water and gave rise to the enhancement of sensible heat energy, which can be further used in a volumetric absorption type solar collector.

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