Solar fuels by water splitting

The aim of this project is to develop a high efficiency, integrated system using solar cells and nanostructured electrodes for stand-alone solar hydrogen production. This work will contribute to the ultimate goal of developing efficient and affordable means of producing solar fuels and alleviate environmental concerns from greenhouse gases by establishing a roadmap towards high efficiency solar to hydrogen conversion using low-cost materials, paving the way for the widespread implementation of solar fuel production.

The quest for abundant, renewable energy that can be stored is currently one of the world’s greatest technological challenges. One solution to this problem is the conversion of solar energy to storable chemical fuels, such as H2. Chemical fuel generated from solar-driven photoelectrolysis has the potential to fill an important niche in the renewable energy landscape: they inherently offer storage which could be used to mitigate the intermittency of solar and wind power; and they provide a source of liquid fuels to power heavy-duty transportation that cannot rely on batteries.. Towards realizing this goal, artificial photosynthetic approaches such as photoelectrochemical cells are being extensively investigated.  This project aims to develop a highly efficient stand-alone solar water splitting systems using low-cost materials.

This project consists of several elements

1)      Computational modelling of catalysts at semiconductor interfaces and their interactions with light and electrolytes.  This involves getting an atom-level understanding of the electronic processes at interfaces. 

2)      Fabrication and characterization of nanoscale structures on the surfaces of solar cells and electrodes, for increasing the rate and efficiency of photocatalysis

3)      Integration of the solar cells and nano-engineered electrodes into a high efficiency system to generation hydrogen by splitting water.

Students who are interested in doing a PhD in this area should have a background in physics, chemistry or engineering. 




Updated:  8 September 2015/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing