Solar fuels from sustainable feedstock using Earth-abundant catalysts

Grantham Scholar James Shipp is now a postdoctoral researcher in multidimensional vibrational and electronic time-resolved laser spectroscopy, University of Pennsylvania in the United States. A recent publication from James was the most popular paper in the journal Inorganic Chemistry. At the Grantham Centre he researched catalysts for artificial photosynthesis.

The project

Light-driven reactions in natural systems are responsible for the very life on earth, where photosynthetic plants and bacteria harvest sunlight to drive the conversion of carbon dioxide and water into energy-rich compounds.

Artificial photosynthesis is a fascinating field of research where ‘man-made’ light-harvesting molecules are combined with nanostructured materials. These are then used for the reduction of carbon dioxide to ‘solar fuels’, such as carbon monoxide, methanol, and methane. These CO2 reducing systems are studied with advanced characterisation methods e.g. ultrafast laser spectroscopy and electron microscopy.

Ultimately, the aim of this project is to prepare catalysts for artificial photosynthesis. The system will reduce CO2 to solar fuels and split water into hydrogen and oxygen using a sustainable energy source, such as sunlight.

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Professor Tao Wang

Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Dr Alastair Buckley

Department of Physics and Astronomy

Dr Stephen Ebbens

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering