Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold

Under the right conditions, gold nanoparticles absorb light and transfer electrons to other reactants. This process can be used to convert CO2 and water into hydrocarbons. In the graphic, carbon atoms are black, oxygen atoms are red and hydrogen atoms are white.

Graphic by Sungju Yu / Jain Lab / University of Illinois
Under the right conditions, gold nanoparticles absorb light and transfer electrons to other reactants. This process can be used to convert CO2 and water into hydrocarbons. In the graphic, carbon atoms are black, oxygen atoms are red and hydrogen atoms are white. Graphic by Sungju Yu / Jain Lab / University of Illinois

Abstract:
Scientists are one step closer to building a carbon-recycling system that can harvest solar energy to efficiently convert CO2 and water into liquid fuels. By optimizing many parts of the system, the researchers say, they can now drive two-electron chemical reactions, a substantial advance over one-electron reactions, which are energy inefficient.

Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, gold

Champaign, IL | Posted on May 15th, 2018

The research, reported in the journal Nature Chemistry, will aid those hoping to find a way to convert excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into useful energy sources, said University of Illinois chemistry professor Prashant Jain, who led the new research.

“Scientists often look to plants for insight into methods for turning sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into fuels,” he said.

When solar energy hits plant leaves, it excites the electrons in chlorophyll. Those excited electrons ultimately drive the chemistry that transforms carbon dioxide and water into glucose.

“Many of these chemical reactions are multiproton, multielectron reactions,” Jain said.

But instead of relying on biodegradable plant pigments to convert light energy into chemical energy, scientists are turning to something better: electron-rich metal catalysts like gold, which at specific light intensities and wavelengths can transfer photoexcited electrons and protons to reactants without being degraded or used up.

“In our study, we used spherical gold particles that are 13 to 14 nanometers in size,” Jain said. “The nanoparticles have unique optical properties, depending on their size and shape.”

When coated with a polymer and suspended in water, for example, the nanoparticles absorb green light and reflect a deep red color. Under light excitation, the nanoparticles transfer electrons to probe molecules, which then change color. This allows scientists to measure how efficiently the electron-transfer reactions are taking place.

“Researchers have managed in the past to use photochemistry and these light-absorbing materials to transfer one electron at a time,” Jain said. “But in the new study, we’ve identified the principles and rules and conditions under which a metal nanoparticle catalyst can transfer two electrons at a time.”

By varying the intensity of laser light used in the experiments, Jain and his colleagues discovered that at four to five times the intensity of solar energy, the gold nanoparticles in the system could transfer up to two electrons at a time from ethanol to an electron-hungry probe.

Two-electron reactions are far preferable to one-electron reactions, Jain said.

“You need a pair of electrons to make a bond between atoms,” he said. “When you don’t provide a pair of electrons – and a pair of protons to neutralize the loss of electrons – you end up making free radicals, which are highly reactive and can back-react, wasting the energy you used to create them. They also can react with other chemicals or destroy your catalyst.”

Jain also concluded that recent experiments his lab conducted using the same system also entailed multielectron, multiproton transfers. In those experiments, his lab converted CO2 to ethane, a two-carbon compound that is more energy-rich than methane, which contains only one carbon. Jain and his colleagues are hoping to eventually generate propane, which has a three-carbon backbone, and butane, which has four.

“From the point of view of chemistry, it’s interesting to understand the rules for stringing carbon atoms together,” Jain said. “Transferring more than one electron at a time, activating more than one carbon dioxide molecule at a time at the surface of the nanoparticle catalyst can get us access to higher hydrocarbons.”

While the new findings represent an important step forward, much more work must be done before this technology is ready to be employed and scaled up to meet current challenges, Jain said.

“There’s still a long way to go. I think we’ll need at least a decade to find practical CO2-sequestration, CO2-fixation, fuel-formation technologies that are economically feasible,” he said. “But every insight into the process improves the pace at which the research community can move.”

The Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation and the National Science Foundation supported this research.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
DIANA YATES
LIFE SCIENCES EDITOR
217-333-5802


Prashant Jain
217-333-3417

Copyright © University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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

The paper “Harvesting multiple electron-hole pairs generated through plasmonic excitation of Au nanoparticles” is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau:

Related News Press

News and information

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Arrowhead Begins Triple Combination Cohort in Chronic HBV Patients and Earns $25 Million Milestone Payment from Janssen April 23rd, 2019

Micro-LEDs achieve superior brightness with Picosun’s ALD technology April 23rd, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

Chemistry

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

Coincidence helps with quantum measurements: New method enables quantum simulations on larger systems April 22nd, 2019

From nata de coco to computer screens: Cellulose gets a chance to shine: Researchers at Osaka University meticulously measured the optical birefringence of highly aligned cellulose nanofibers, paving the way for sharper television, computer, and smartphone screens April 19th, 2019

Possible Futures

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Arrowhead Begins Triple Combination Cohort in Chronic HBV Patients and Earns $25 Million Milestone Payment from Janssen April 23rd, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide: Engineered surface treatment developed at MIT can reduce waste and improve efficiency in many processes April 23rd, 2019

Discoveries

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide: Engineered surface treatment developed at MIT can reduce waste and improve efficiency in many processes April 23rd, 2019

Coincidence helps with quantum measurements: New method enables quantum simulations on larger systems April 22nd, 2019

Announcements

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Arrowhead Begins Triple Combination Cohort in Chronic HBV Patients and Earns $25 Million Milestone Payment from Janssen April 23rd, 2019

Micro-LEDs achieve superior brightness with Picosun’s ALD technology April 23rd, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

Scientists explore the unknown behaviour of gold nanoparticles with neutrons April 23rd, 2019

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide: Engineered surface treatment developed at MIT can reduce waste and improve efficiency in many processes April 23rd, 2019

Coincidence helps with quantum measurements: New method enables quantum simulations on larger systems April 22nd, 2019

Energy

How slippery surfaces allow sticky pastes and gels to slide: Engineered surface treatment developed at MIT can reduce waste and improve efficiency in many processes April 23rd, 2019

Multistep self-assembly opens door to new reconfigurable materials April 19th, 2019

NEXUS 2019: Global Summit on Energy Materials and Green Nanotechnology April 16th, 2019

New hybrid energy method could fuel the future of rockets, spacecraft for exploration: Nontraditional route shown to increase performance, burn rate April 9th, 2019

Grants/Sponsored Research/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

Coal could yield treatment for traumatic injuries: Rice, Texas A&M, UTHealth scientists discover coal-derived ‘dots’ are effective antioxidant April 25th, 2019

From 2D to 1D: Atomically quasi '1D' wires using a carbon nanotube template: New bulk synthesis method for nanowires of molybdenum telluride for nanoelectronics April 19th, 2019

'Nanobodies' from alpacas could help bring CAR T-cell therapy to solid tumors: Unusually small antibodies, targeted to the tumor micro-environment, curb melanoma and colon cancer in mouse models April 11th, 2019

2D borophene gets a closer look: Rice, Northwestern find new ways to image, characterize unique material April 11th, 2019

Solar/Photovoltaic

Multistep self-assembly opens door to new reconfigurable materials April 19th, 2019

Mystery of negative capacitance in perovskite solar cells solved April 5th, 2019

Fullerenes bridge conductive gap in organic photovoltaics: Efficient cathode interlayers made of ionene polymers refined with pendant fullerenes March 29th, 2019

A Research Hat-Trick: Mechanical engineering professor Bolin Liao receives third early-career award since September March 26th, 2019

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



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project