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New Materials Could Turn Water into the Fuel of the Future

Scientists at Berkeley Lab and Caltech have—in just two years—nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels. They did so by developing a process that promises to speed the discovery of commercially viable generation of solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.

Solar Cells Get Boost with Integration of Water-Splitting Catalyst onto Semiconductor

Berkeley Lab scientists have found a way to engineer the atomic-scale chemical properties of a water-splitting catalyst for integration with a solar cell, and the result is a big boost to the stability and efficiency of artificial photosynthesis. The research comes out of the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), established to develop a cost-effective method of turning sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel.

Simplifying Solar Cells with a New Mix of Materials

Scientists have simplified the steps to create highly efficient silicon solar cells by applying a new mix of materials to a standard design. The special blend of materials eliminates the need for a process known as doping that steers the device’s properties by introducing foreign atoms. Doping can also degrade performance.

Some Like it Hot: Simulating Single Particle Excitations

Understanding and manipulating plasmons is important for their potential use in photovoltaics, solar cell water splitting, and sunlight-induced fuel production from CO2. Berkeley Lab researchers have used a real-time numerical algorithm to study both the plasmon and hot carrier within the same framework. That is critical for understanding how long a particle stays excited, and whether there is energy backflow from hot carrier to plasmon.

The Future of Energy Looks Bright at Berkeley Lab

The Solar Energy Research Center (SERC), renamed to Chu Hall, opened today at Berkeley Lab. It will house laboratories and offices devoted to photovoltaic and electro-chemical solar energy systems designed to improve on what plants do and make transportation fuels. The building houses the lab’s programs in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) and the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute . The three-story, nearly 40,000 square-foot, building cost $59 million will house approximately 100 researchers and was named after former Berkeley Lab Director Steven Chu, who went on to become U.S. Energy Secretary.

Energy Department to Provide $75 Million for ‘Fuels from Sunlight’ Hub

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced $75 million in funding to renew the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub originally established in 2010 with the goal of harnessing solar energy for the production of fuel. JCAP researchers are focused on achieving the major scientific breakthroughs needed to produce liquid transportation fuels from a combination of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, using artificial photosynthesis.

Two Berkeley Lab Scientists Named AAAS Fellows

Two Berkeley Lab scientists, climate scientist William Collins and chemist Heinz Frei, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2014.

Promising News for Solar Fuels from Berkeley Lab Researchers at JCAP

A JCAP study shows that nearly 90-percent of the electrons generated by a semiconductor/cobaloxime hybrid catalyst designed to store solar energy in hydrogen are being stored in their intended target molecules.

Hydrogen Fuel From Sunlight:

Berkeley Lab researchers at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis have developed a way to interface a molecular hydrogen-producing catalyst with a visible light absorbing semiconductor. With this approach, hydrogen fuel can be produced off a photocathode using sunlight.

Testing Artificial Photosynthesis

Berkeley Lab researchers, working at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), have developed the first fully integrated microfluidic test-bed for evaluating and optimizing solar-driven electrochemical energy conversion systems.