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Date: 03-11-15

Artificial material creates energy using photosynthesis like process

Florida State University researcher Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Jose L. Mendoza-Cortes able to discover artificial material that works like a way similar to photosynthesis to create clean energy. His work is published in Journal of Physical Chemistry, where it is explained how this new material efficiently captures sunlight which is used to break down water into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2). “In theory, this should be a self-sustaining energy source,” Mendoza-Cortes said. “Perhaps in the future, you could put this material on your roof and it could turn rain water into energy with the help of the sun.” Mendoza-Cortes, a computational and theoretical chemist, said The challenge according to Mendoza-Cortes was designing a material that does not rust from the process of breaking down water that also trapped the energy and was inexpensive to create. Mendoza-Cortes initially developed a multilayered material out of manganese oxide, commonly known as birnessite. Later Mendoza-Cortes and his team could remove some of the layers of the material to only have a single layer of the material which started trapping light at a much faster rate. The material could transit from indirect band gap material to a direct band gap one, where the light can penetrate indirect band gap materials much more easily without getting absorbed and used for other purposes. The team could create a single-layer material using simple and cheaper ways, compared to other material. “This is why the discovery of this direct band gap material is so exciting,” Mendoza-Cortes said. “It is cheap, it is efficient and you do not need a large amount to capture enough sunlight to carry out fuel generation.”

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