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Images of particles made from a promising battery cathode material called NMC

Solar Water-Splitting Catalysis

Global Climate and Energy Project

Harold Hwang, applied physics

Using the sun to split water into hydrogen and oxygen has the potential to greatly reduce the production of greenhouse gases. The generated hydrogen can be used in fuel cells or as feedstock for ammonia and industrial chemical synthesis.

Three principal factors limit the practical implementation of solar water splitting: inefficient charge separation, slow chemical reaction rate at the catalyst surface and ineffective use of the solar spectrum in the visible range. Although there are many efforts to address these challenges, the vast majority of experimental activities rely on polycrystalline materials. The researchers will explore the use of single crystalline oxide materials, grown with atomic precision, to enhance conversion efficiency.