November 17, 2008

Inkjet printer advances solar hydrogen

Run metal oxides through the process pharmaceutical companies use to make drugs and you could come up with a breakthrough for generating hydrogen from water using sunlight.

The high-throughput screening process builds a library of data by inkjet printing combinations of metal oxides onto a sheet of glass, heating the samples, then measuring their electrical properties. The library promises to make it easier to design efficient photoelectrodes for solar water splitting, which has the potential to be a clean, inexpensive way to generate hydrogen for fuel.

Materials scientists are increasingly turning to the technique of making many new substances at once and rapidly testing them to catalog their properties, which makes it easier to design materials for specific uses. The technique has been used for years to develop drugs.

Research paper:
Combinatorial Synthesis and High-Throughput Photopotential and Photocurrent Screening of Mixed-Metal Oxides for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting
Energy & Environmental Science, published online November 6, 2008

Researchers' homepage:
The Lewis Group, California Institute of Technology

Related stories and briefs:
Carbon promises cheap solar hydrogen -- related research
Cheap catalyst boosts solar hydrogen prospects -- related research

Back to ERN November 17/24, 2008



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