Navigation Links
UC Santa Barbara scientists develop a whole new way of harvesting energy from the sun
Date:2/24/2013

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) A new method of harvesting the Sun's energy is emerging, thanks to scientists at UC Santa Barbara's Departments of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Materials. Though still in its infancy, the research promises to convert sunlight into energy using a process based on metals that are more robust than many of the semiconductors used in conventional methods. The researchers' findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

"It is the first radically new and potentially workable alternative to semiconductor-based solar conversion devices to be developed in the past 70 years or so," said Martin Moskovits, professor of chemistry at UCSB.

In conventional photoprocesses, a technology developed and used over the last century, sunlight hits the surface of semiconductor material, one side of which is electron-rich, while the other side is not. The photon, or light particle, excites the electrons, causing them to leave their postions, and create positively-charged "holes." The result is a current of charged particles that can be captured and delivered for various uses, including powering lightbulbs, charging batteries, or facilitating chemical reactions.

"For example, the electrons might cause hydrogen ions in water to be converted into hydrogen, a fuel, while the holes produce oxygen," said Moskovits.

In the technology developed by Moskovits and his team, it is not semiconductor materials that provide the electrons and venue for the conversion of solar energy, but nanostructured metals a "forest" of gold nanorods, to be specific.

For this experiment, gold nanorods were capped with a layer of crystalline titanium dioxide decorated with platinum nanoparticles, and set in water. A cobalt-based oxidation catalyst was deposited on the lower portion of the array.

"When nanostructures, such as nanorods, of certain metals are exposed to visible light, the conduction electrons of the metal can be caused to oscillate collectively, absorbing a great deal of the light," said Moskovits. "This excitation is called a surface plasmon."

As the "hot" electrons in these plasmonic waves are excited by light particles, some travel up the nanorod, through a filter layer of crystalline titanium dioxide, and are captured by platinum particles. This causes the reaction that splits hydrogen ions from the bond that forms water. Meanwhile, the holes left behind by the excited electrons head toward the cobalt-based catalyst on the lower part of the rod to form oxygen.

According to the study, hydrogen production was clearly observable after about two hours. Additionally, the nanorods were not subject to the photocorrosion that often causes traditional semiconductor material to fail in minutes.

"The device operated with no hint of failure for many weeks," Moskovits said.

The plasmonic method of splitting water is currently less efficient and more costly than conventional photoprocesses, but if the last century of photovoltaic technology has shown anything, it is that continued research will improve on the cost and efficiency of this new method and likely in far less time than it took for the semiconductor-based technology, said Moskovits.

"Despite the recentness of the discovery, we have already attained 'respectable' efficiencies. More importantly, we can imagine achievable strategies for improving the efficiencies radically," he said.

Research in this study was also performed by postdoctoral researchers Syed Mubeen and Joun Lee; grad student Nirala Singh; materials engineer Stephan Kraemer; and chemistry professor Galen Stucky.


'/>"/>

Contact: Sonia Fernandez
sonia.fernandez@ia.ucsb.edu
805-637-3726
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology technology :

1. inVentiv Health Selected to Provide Sales Operations Support for Santarus
2. Oracle chairman Jeff Henley makes $50 million gift to UC Santa Barbara
3. Kitware Announces Opening of Santa Fe Office
4. UC Santa Barbara scientists learn how to unlock the destiny of a cell: A gift for the tin man?
5. Scientists defuse the Vietnam time bomb
6. Singapore scientists lead human embryonic stem cell study
7. Sheffield scientists shine a light on the detection of bacterial infection
8. Nanowiggles: Scientists discover graphene nanomaterials with tunable functionality in electronics
9. Scientists solve mystery of colorful armchair nanotubes
10. iBioSeminars and iBioMagazine: Free, Online Biology Seminars and Short Talks by Leading Scientists
11. Chinese Scientists Zhen-Yi Wang and Zhu Chen Awarded 7th Annual Szent-Gyorgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/10/2016)... , Feb. 10, 2016  Allergan plc (NYSE: ... announced that Brent Saunders , Allergan,s CEO and ... a fireside chat session at the RBC Capital Markets ... p.m. ET at The New York Palace Hotel in ... will be webcast live and can be accessed on ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 10, 2016 , ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech Optoelectronics will feature ... in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, and at the healthcare-focused ... latest InGaAs PIN diode standard packages feature a TO-46 metal can with active areas ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... medicine, has announced a new agreement with Singapore-based Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) ... the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore in the latest adipose and bone marrow therapies. ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... 9, 2016  Regenicin, Inc. (OTC Bulletin Board: ... the development and commercialization of regenerative cell therapies ... organs, recently reported the Company,s operating results for ... 2016. Lonza America , Inc. (the ... year in the process of consummating an agreement ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016 This BCC ... bioinformatic market by reviewing the recent advances in ... that drive the field forward. Includes forecast through ... Identify the challenges and opportunities that exist in ... software solution developers, as well as IT and ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... , Feb. 2, 2016  Based on its ... & Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems ... Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation. IRIS, a ... North America , is poised to ... growing diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS technology presents ...
(Date:1/28/2016)... SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 28, 2016 Synaptics (NASDAQ: ... financial results for its second quarter ended December 31, 2015. ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 increased 2 percent compared to ... the second quarter of fiscal 2016 was $35.0 million, or $0.93 ... Non-GAAP net income for the first quarter of fiscal 2016 ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):