Global Technology – January 2012

Photosynthesis is considered the “Holy Grail” in the field of sustainable energy generation because it directly converts solar energy into storable fuel using nothing but water and carbon dioxide.  Now a breakthrough material could ultimately lead to cheap, “green” energy. Scientists have long tried to mimic the underlying natural processes and to optimize them for energy device applications such as photo-electrochemical cells, which use sunlight to electrochemically split water, directly generating hydrogen.  Traditionally, these cells’ electrodes have been made of semiconducting materials, such as metal oxides. However, researchers at Empa’s Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, the University of Basel, and Argonne National Laboratory have recently succeeded in making a nano-bio photo-electrochemical cell electrode.  It consists of iron oxide conjugated with...

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