The Sun could potentially supply enough energy for all our needs, but its energy needs to be harvested and stored efficiently. A sustainable route to capture energy from the Sun involves using photocatalytic materials that, upon solar irradiation, rearrange the electrons in molecules such as water and carbon dioxide and consequently form fuels such as hydrogen and hydrocarbons and harmless oxygen. This route, typically called artificial photosynthesis, has the potential to ensure affordable supplies of clean fuels and feedstocks for energy, pharmaceuticals, plastics and textiles, simply using inexhaustible resources. The aim of this project is to make a breakthrough in the synthesis of metal oxides with tailored nanostructure to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of artificial photosynthesis devices in the formation of clean fuels such as hydrogen. In order to achieve this, graphene oxide flakes, carbon mats known for its nano and two-dimensionality, will be systematically studied as a sacrificial support for the formation of metal oxide nanoflakes replicating the graphene oxide shape. This will lead to a more optimised morphology to exploit the qualities of metal oxides in artificial photosynthesis. The project will follow a multidisciplinary approach involving the undertaking of different activities, namely wet chemical syntheses, devices construction and advanced characterisation to achieve its aim. Each of these activities will address a different challenge. Through wet chemical syntheses, the project will aim to understand the mechanisms to replicate the nano- and two-dimensionality of graphene oxide on metal oxides. The second activity will concentrate on finding the best routes to apply the novel metal oxides for solar fuels production. The third activity will have the challenge of characterising the photocatalytic nanostructured materials in such a way to relate their properties to their activity, allowing the optimisation of the devices. Preparing metal oxides with nano- and two-dimensionality as in graphene oxide will have a considerable impact on the research of these materials and on their application. This will ensure important advances towards a more sustainable energy mix of clean energy for current and future generations.
|Effective start/end date||1/03/17 → 31/07/18|