Turning Sunlight into Liquid Fuels
For millions of years, green plants have employed photosynthesis to capture
energy from sunlight and convert it into electrochemical energy. A goal of scientists
has been to develop an artificial version of photosynthesis that can be used
to produce liquid fuels from carbon dioxide and water.
Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have now taken a critical step towards this goal with
the discovery that nano-sized crystals of cobalt oxide can effectively carry
out the critical photosynthetic reaction of splitting water molecules.
In this video, an aqueous solution contains silica particles that have been
embedded with photooxidizing cobalt oxide nanocrystals plus a sensitizer to
allow the water-splitting reaction to be driven by visible light. When laser
light hits the solution it turns from gold to blue as the sensitizer absorbs
light. Bubbles soon begin to form as oxygen gas is released from the spilt water
Run time 0.29 mins