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May 18th, 2005
In the short term humans urgently need to use energy more efficiently, and we need to stop putting carbon straight into the air. More important for the long term, we need to find or create ways to use energy that don't release any carbon at all.
One approach, described by PBD's Heinz Frei, is to embed molecule-sized components for light harvesting and catalysis in a 3-D matrix structured on the nanometer scale, with different stages separated by only a few billionths of a meter. The properties of nanoparticles themselves aid the process; for example, the photon-to-electric-current efficiency of some nanocrystalline catalysts is hundreds of times that of the same materials in bulk. Such a 3-D nanoassembly would be mesoporous, penetrated by microscopic channels to carry off the gaseous products of catalysis.
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