Artificial Photosynthesis - incorporating semiconductor photoelectrodes with co-catalysts directly immersed in water for solar-driven electrolysis, has promise as a technology that can produce clean hydrogen fuel more cost-effectively than electrolyzers coupled with photovoltaics.
Direct conversion of solar energy to chemical fuels such as hydrogen is a very promising route to the energy-dense storage of this abundant but intermittent renewable resource. The ultimate goal is to produce an integrated semiconductor/catalyst system that can produce hydrogen and oxygen from water at high efficiency and stability under visible light. Research at the Conn Center is pursuing novel semiconductors such as GaSbP with tunable energetic properties. Efforts are also underway to combine this material in a tandem structure with Si photoelectrodes for a more efficient system that will eventually be made into a low-cost semiconductor particle reactor system.