New water splitting catalyst could make it easier to generate solar fuel

Date: Jan 24, 2019

Water splitting, the process of harvesting solar energy to generate energy-dense fuels, could be simplified thanks to new research including faculty at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

“The key idea is to generate a solar fuel: hydrogen gas, which can be burnt to release energy on demand without releasing carbon dioxide,” said Binghamton University Associate Professor of Physics Louis Piper. “For water splitting, we use visible light to generate photo-excited negative electrons and positive holes that are then separated in order to catalyze water into oxygen and hydrogen gases. Storing gases is more straightforward (and cheaper) than employing battery set-ups, so this approach has the benefit of clean energy harvesting and storage.”

A research team including Piper figured out how “doping” (or adding metal ions) into vanadium pentoxide (M-V2O5) nanowires raises the highest filled energy levels for more efficient hole transfer from the quantum dots to nanowires i.e. separation of the photo-excited electrons and holes.

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