Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Artificial Forest for Solar Water-Splitting: Berkeley Lab Researchers Report First Fully Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem

Schematic shows TiO2 nanowires (blue) grown on the upper half of a Si nanowire (gray) and the two absorbing different regions of the solar spectrum. Insets display photoexcited electron−hole pairs separated at the semiconductor-electrolyte interface to carry out water splitting with the help of co-catalysts (yellow and gray dots).
Schematic shows TiO2 nanowires (blue) grown on the upper half of a Si nanowire (gray) and the two absorbing different regions of the solar spectrum. Insets display photoexcited electron−hole pairs separated at the semiconductor-electrolyte interface to carry out water splitting with the help of co-catalysts (yellow and gray dots).

Abstract:
In the wake of the sobering news that atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years, an important advance in the race to develop carbon-neutral renewable energy sources has been achieved. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis. While "artificial leaf" is the popular term for such a system, the key to this success was an "artificial forest."

Artificial Forest for Solar Water-Splitting: Berkeley Lab Researchers Report First Fully Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem

Berkeley, CA | Posted on May 17th, 2013

"Similar to the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis, our artificial photosynthetic system is composed of two semiconductor light absorbers, an interfacial layer for charge transport, and spatially separated co-catalysts," says Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division, who led this research. "To facilitate solar water- splitting in our system, we synthesized tree-like nanowire heterostructures, consisting of silicon trunks and titanium oxide branches. Visually, arrays of these nanostructures very much resemble an artificial forest."

Yang, who also holds appointments with the University of California Berkeley's Chemistry Department and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in the journal NANO Letters. The paper is titled "A Fully Integrated Nanosystem of Semiconductor Nanowires for Direct Solar Water Splitting." Co-authors are Chong Liu, Jinyao Tang, Hao Ming Chen and Bin Liu.

Solar technologies are the ideal solutions for carbon-neutral renewable energy - there's enough energy in one hour's worth of global sunlight to meet all human needs for a year. Artificial photosynthesis, in which solar energy is directly converted into chemical fuels, is regarded as one of the most promising of solar technologies. A major challenge for artificial photosynthesis is to produce hydrogen cheaply enough to compete with fossil fuels. Meeting this challenge requires an integrated system that can efficiently absorb sunlight and produce charge-carriers to drive separate water reduction and oxidation half-reactions.

"In natural photosynthesis the energy of absorbed sunlight produces energized charge-carriers that execute chemical reactions in separate regions of the chloroplast," Yang says. "We've integrated our nanowire nanoscale heterostructure into a functional system that mimics the integration in chloroplasts and provides a conceptual blueprint for better solar-to-fuel conversion efficiencies in the future."

When sunlight is absorbed by pigment molecules in a chloroplast, an energized electron is generated that moves from molecule to molecule through a transport chain until ultimately it drives the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbohydrate sugars. This electron transport chain is called a "Z-scheme" because the pattern of movement resembles the letter Z on its side. Yang and his colleagues also use a Z-scheme in their system only they deploy two Earth abundant and stable semiconductors - silicon and titanium oxide - loaded with co-catalysts and with an ohmic contact inserted between them. Silicon was used for the hydrogen-generating photocathode and titanium oxide for the oxygen-generating photoanode. The tree-like architecture was used to maximize the system's performance. Like trees in a real forest, the dense arrays of artificial nanowire trees suppress sunlight reflection and provide more surface area for fuel producing reactions.

"Upon illumination photo-excited electron−hole pairs are generated in silicon and titanium oxide, which absorb different regions of the solar spectrum," Yang says. "The photo-generated electrons in the silicon nanowires migrate to the surface and reduce protons to generate hydrogen while the photo-generated holes in the titanium oxide nanowires oxidize water to evolve oxygen molecules. The majority charge carriers from both semiconductors recombine at the ohmic contact, completing the relay of the Z-scheme, similar to that of natural photosynthesis."

Under simulated sunlight, this integrated nanowire-based artificial photosynthesis system achieved a 0.12-percent solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency. Although comparable to some natural photosynthetic conversion efficiencies, this rate will have to be substantially improved for commercial use. However, the modular design of this system allows for newly discovered individual components to be readily incorporated to improve its performance. For example, Yang notes that the photocurrent output from the system's silicon cathodes and titanium oxide anodes do not match, and that the lower photocurrent output from the anodes is limiting the system's overall performance.

"We have some good ideas to develop stable photoanodes with better performance than titanium oxide," Yang says. "We're confident that we will be able to replace titanium oxide anodes in the near future and push the energy conversion efficiency up into single digit percentages."

This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

####

About Berkeley Lab
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit the Office of Science website at science.energy.gov/.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Lynn Yarris

510-486-5375

Copyright © Berkeley Lab

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

For more about the research of Peidong Yang go here:

Related News Press

News and information

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces Next Large Order from the Oil and Gas Industry March 26th, 2015

Quantum compute this -- WSU mathematicians build code to take on toughest of cyber attacks: Revamped knapsack code offers online security for the future March 26th, 2015

Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon: Result could make atomic clocks more accurate March 26th, 2015

Square ice filling for a graphene sandwich March 26th, 2015

Laboratories

ORNL-led team demonstrates desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane March 25th, 2015

Los Alamos Offers New Insights Into Radiation Damage Evolution: TUnderstanding defects in materials aids in performance predictions March 18th, 2015

Graphene 'gateway' discovery opens possibilities for improved energy technologies March 18th, 2015

Graphene membrane could lead to better fuel cells, water filters March 17th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon: Result could make atomic clocks more accurate March 26th, 2015

Nanorobotic agents open the blood-brain barrier, offering hope for new brain treatments March 25th, 2015

ORNL-led team demonstrates desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane March 25th, 2015

Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain: Rice University invention provides two-way communication with neurons March 25th, 2015

Discoveries

Quantum compute this -- WSU mathematicians build code to take on toughest of cyber attacks: Revamped knapsack code offers online security for the future March 26th, 2015

Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon: Result could make atomic clocks more accurate March 26th, 2015

Square ice filling for a graphene sandwich March 26th, 2015

Application of Graphene Oxide in Body Implants in Iran March 26th, 2015

Announcements

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces Next Large Order from the Oil and Gas Industry March 26th, 2015

Quantum compute this -- WSU mathematicians build code to take on toughest of cyber attacks: Revamped knapsack code offers online security for the future March 26th, 2015

Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon: Result could make atomic clocks more accurate March 26th, 2015

Square ice filling for a graphene sandwich March 26th, 2015

Energy

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Announces Next Large Order from the Oil and Gas Industry March 26th, 2015

New kind of 'tandem' solar cell developed: Researchers combine 2 types of photovoltaic material to make a cell that harnesses more sunlight March 24th, 2015

Nanodevice Invented in Iran to Detect Hydrogen Sulfide in Oil, Gas Industry March 20th, 2015

Clean energy future: New cheap and efficient electrode for splitting water March 18th, 2015

Nanobiotechnology

Dolomite’s microfluidics technology ideal for B cell encapsulation March 24th, 2015

Tiny bio-robot is a germ suited-up with graphene quantum dots March 24th, 2015

TGAC's take on the first portable DNA sequencing 'laboratory': First remote laboratory allows researchers to conduct real-time anaylsis March 19th, 2015

Super-resolution microscopes reveal the link between genome packaging and cell pluripotency: A study using super-resolution microscopy reveals that our genome is not regularly packaged and links these packaging differences to stem cell state March 12th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

New kind of 'tandem' solar cell developed: Researchers combine 2 types of photovoltaic material to make a cell that harnesses more sunlight March 24th, 2015

Caltech scientists develop cool process to make better graphene March 18th, 2015

Clean energy future: New cheap and efficient electrode for splitting water March 18th, 2015

A new method for making perovskite solar cells March 16th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE