To address the challenges of photon capture and energy conversion, we will investigate solar-driven hydrogen production via photoelectrochemical water splitting. Although the concept is extremely attractive as a method of sustainable fuel production, no single material with acceptable performance, stability, and cost has been found, despite decades of investigation. To address this significant challenge, we will use new concepts and methods, afforded by nanotechnology, to design innovative composite nanostructures in which each component performs specialized functions. These novel nanocomposites will decrease the number of criteria that any single component must meet, thus overcoming the basic materials limitations that have hindered development. Computational studies will be used to assist in the selection of optimal material pairings and a wealth of advanced analytical techniques will be employed to improve the understanding of structure-composition-property relationships. As a final objective, we will use NanoPEC’s innovations to develop a 1 square-centimeter test device that converts solar energy to hydrogen energy with a sustained 10% efficiency and a maximum performance decay of 10% over the first 5,000 hours of operation and a 100 square-centimeter test device with a sustained 7% efficiency and similar stability, representing a performance standard that goes well beyond the state-of-the-art. NanoPEC’s innovative research will redefine the field of photoelectrochemistry and place Europe at the forefront of nanoscience and nanotechnology research by contributing to leadership in this strategically important area.
Fields of science
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