Water Splitting Photocatalysis with Inorganic Particles

Seminar | March 16 | 4-5 p.m. | 348 Hearst Memorial Mining Building

 Professor Frank E. Osterloh, UC Davis

 Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)

Particle-based water photoelectrolysis is a special form of artificial photosynthesis that can offer substantial cost savings over established photovoltaic-electrolyzer and photoelectrochemical cells. While the theoretical solar to hydrogen conversion (STH) efficiency limit of tandem systems is 21%, existing particle water splitting devices only reach 1.1% STH. This means that significant advances are still possible with this technology through engineering. To guide such efforts, this talk introduces the basic types of particle-based water splitting photocatalysts and the photoelectrochemistry concepts that govern their function. Methods to prevent electron/hole recombination and the oxygen reduction reaction (back reaction) will be presented and effects of pH, electrolytes, ions on the energetics and conversion efficiency of PCs will be discussed. Recent developments in particle-based water splitting devices will be highlighted, including the discovery of photocatalyst sheets and the application of new experimental techniques for the characterization of charge transport across particle junctions.

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