Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists discover new pathway for artificial photosynthesis

Date:
January 14, 2014
Source:
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Summary:
Currently, the most efficient methods that we have of making fuel -- principally hydrogen -- from sunlight and water involve rare and expensive metal catalysts, like platinum. In a new study, researchers have found a new, more efficient way to link a less expensive synthetic cobalt-containing catalyst to an organic light-sensitive molecule, called a chromophore.

Humans have for ages taken cues from nature to build their own devices, but duplicating the steps in the complicated electronic dance of photosynthesis remains one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for chemists.
Credit: Image courtesy of DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Humans have for ages taken cues from nature to build their own devices, but duplicating the steps in the complicated electronic dance of photosynthesis remains one of the biggest challenges and opportunities for chemists.

Related Articles


Currently, the most efficient methods we have for making fuel -- principally, hydrogen -- from sunlight and water involve rare and expensive metal catalysts, such as platinum. In a new study, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have found a new, more efficient way to link a less expensive synthetic cobalt-containing catalyst to an organic light-sensitive molecule, called a chromophore.

Although cobalt is significantly less efficient than platinum when it comes to light-induced hydrogen generation, the drastic price difference between the two metals makes cobalt the obvious choice as the foundation for a synthetic catalyst, said Argonne chemist Karen Mulfort.

"Cobalt doesn't have to be as efficient as platinum because it is just so much cheaper," she said.

The Argonne study wasn't the first to look at cobalt as a potential catalytic material; however, the paper did identify a new mechanism by which to link the chromophore with the catalyst. Previous experiments with cobalt attempted to connect the chromophore directly with the cobalt atom within the larger compound, but this eventually caused the hydrogen generation process to break down.

Instead, the Argonne researchers connected the chromophore to part of a larger organic ring that surrounded the cobalt atom, which allowed the reaction to continue significantly longer.

"If we were to directly link the chromophore and the cobalt atom, many of the stimulated electrons quickly fall out of the excited state back into the ground state before the energy transfer can occur," Mulfort said. "By coupling the two materials in the way we've described, we can have much more confidence that the electrons are going to behave the way we want them to."

One additional advantage of working with a cobalt-based catalyst, in addition to its relatively low price and abundance, is the fact that scientists understand the atomic-level mechanisms at play.

"There's a lot of different ways in which we already know we can modify cobalt-based catalysts, which is important because we need to make our devices more robust," Mulfort said.

Future studies in this arena could involve nickel- and iron-based catalysts -- metals which are even more naturally abundant than cobalt, although they are not quite as effective natural catalysts. "We want to extrapolate from what we've gained by looking at this kind of linkage in respect to other catalysts," Mulfort said.

Mulfort and her Argonne colleagues used the high-intensity X-rays provided by the laboratory's Advanced Photon Source as well as precise spectroscopic techniques available at Argonne's Center for Nanoscale Materials.

A paper based on the study appeared in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. The research was supported by DOE's Office of Science.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. The original article was written by Jared Sagoff. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Anusree Mukherjee, Oleksandr Kokhan, Jier Huang, Jens Niklas, Lin X. Chen, David M. Tiede, Karen L. Mulfort. Detection of a charge-separated catalyst precursor state in a linked photosensitizer-catalyst assembly. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2013; 15 (48): 21070 DOI: 10.1039/C3CP54420F

Cite This Page:

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Scientists discover new pathway for artificial photosynthesis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114203123.htm>.
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. (2014, January 14). Scientists discover new pathway for artificial photosynthesis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114203123.htm
DOE/Argonne National Laboratory. "Scientists discover new pathway for artificial photosynthesis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140114203123.htm (accessed January 25, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama Reveals Nuclear Breakthrough on Landmark India Trip

Obama Reveals Nuclear Breakthrough on Landmark India Trip

Reuters - News Video Online (Jan. 25, 2015) In a glow of bonhomie, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveil a deal aimed at unlocking billions of dollars in nuclear trade. Pavithra George reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
NTSB: Missing Planes' Black Boxes Should Transmit Wirelessly

NTSB: Missing Planes' Black Boxes Should Transmit Wirelessly

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) In light of high-profile plane disappearances in the past year, the NTSB has called for changes to make finding missing aircraft easier. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iconic Metal Toy Meccano Goes Robotic

Iconic Metal Toy Meccano Goes Robotic

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 22, 2015) Classic children&apos;s toy Meccano has gone digital, releasing a programmable kit robot that can be controlled by voice recognition. The toymakers say Meccanoid G15 KS is easy to use and is compatible with existing Meccano pieces. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The VueXL From VX1 Immersive Smartphone Headset!

The VueXL From VX1 Immersive Smartphone Headset!

Rumble (Jan. 22, 2015) The VueXL from VX1 is a product that you install your smartphone in and with the magic of magnification lenses, enlarges your smartphones screen so that it&apos;s like looking at a big screen TV. Check it out! Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins