The sun fuels our planet in many ways, providing both thermal energy and chemical potential energy stored in the form of useful fuels. The process of photosynthesis is at the center of life on our planet, and nature has evolved for millennia to optimize the storage of solar energy in useful forms. Owing to the intermittent nature of solar energy, finding new ways to store it for subsequent human use is a critical energy challenge, to provide fuels for the transportation sector, enable grid-scale load leveling, and drive industrially relevant chemistry. The process of solar-to-fuel conversion using semiconductor photoelectrochemistry is termed “artificial photosynthesis”, and mimics natural photosynthesis to store solar energy in the form of useful fuels such as hydrogen or hydrocarbons. The ultimate goal of artificial photosynthesis is purely solar driven fuel production, that can take CO2 and H2O as inputs, and provide a closed-loop, carbon-neutral, and sustainable fuel source. Our group studies nanostructured semiconductors for enhanced light absorption and charge transfer, as well as atomically precise surface and interfacial modifications, to manufacture efficient, scalable, and sustainable direct solar-to-fuel systems.
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