Scientists discover a process that could enhance our ability to harvest energy from the Sun for electricity and fuels.
A process to enhance the performance of solar technologies such as solar cells and photocatalysts, and potentially make their production cheaper, has been discovered by scientists.
Solar cells take energy from the Sun and convert it into electricity. But energy from the Sun can also be harnessed to create other fuels such as hydrogen, which could be used for example in cars. These ‘solar fuels’ are produced by mimicking photosynthesis, the process used by plants to create energy from sunlight.
Solar fuels could help tackle climate change, as they can be created without producing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. They could also directly replace fossil fuels in many applications.
However, photosynthesis is complicated process, and there are several challenges to its replication. One of these challenges is that catalysts – materials that help the reaction proceed – are often expensive and inefficient, preventing the process from being easily scaled up.
In a new study, published in the journal Advanced Materials last week, researchers from Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) demonstrate that a unique property of the material barium titanate could lead to more efficient solar cells and catalyst systems.