As a society, we have seen a tremendous increase in sustainable technology over the last decade. From recycling, to LEDs, to LEED Certified buildings, and to battery-powered cars, clear progress has been made. Today, scientists continue to push boundaries on sustainable technology, shaping public policy and the future in the process.
One area of active research is sustainable solar-produced fuels. Researchers are developing artificial photosynthetic systems that are designed to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, which harnesses solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars. These systems, both natural and synthetic, involve chemically converting water into oxygen gas and hydrogen gas.
Usually, our water-splitting processes rely on electrolysis—running electricity through water to trigger a reaction that splits it. In order to carry out this process using solar energy, systems require stable, light-absorbing electrodes. Unfortunately, the solution conditions required to carryout water electrolysis often cause electrodes to degrade, which has hampered progress toward developing efficient, stable artificial photosynthetic systems.
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