As we look back at a decade of discovery, we highlight 10 scientific breakthroughs by researchers at Berkeley Lab and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis that bring us closer to a solar fuels future.
Scientists at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis have invented the first solar-powered fuel generating cell that allows for unobtrusive observation of an operating catalyst. This advance will enable the discovery of new, more efficient catalysts, which could help bring solar fuel cells from the lab bench to the real world.
A study led by Berkeley Lab has uncovered new insight into how to better control the catalyst cobalt oxide for artificial photosynthesis.
Two Berkeley Lab scientists – climate scientist Inez Fung of the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area, and chemist Martin Head-Gordon of the Energy Sciences Area – have been elected to the Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific academic society in continuous existence.
A discovery by researchers at Berkeley Lab and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis shows that recycling carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals and fuels can be economical and efficient – all through a single copper catalyst.
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, have developed an artificial photosynthesis device called a “hybrid photoelectrochemical and voltaic (HPEV) cell” that turns sunlight and water into two types of energy – hydrogen fuel and electricity.
In the quest to realize artificial photosynthesis to convert sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuel – just as plants do – researchers need to not only identify materials to efficiently perform photoelectrochemical water splitting, but also to understand why a certain material may or may not work. Now scientists at Berkeley Lab have pioneered a technique that uses nanoscale imaging to understand how local, nanoscale properties can affect a material’s macroscopic performance.
In a big step toward sun-powered fuel production, scientists at Berkeley Lab have used artificial photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons at efficiencies greater than plants. The achievement marks a significant advance in the effort to move toward sustainable sources of fuel.
Berkeley Lab researchers have developed a new method of analyzing the molecular-scale structure of organo-lead halide perovskites, a promising class of materials that could energize the solar cell industry. They combined advanced X-ray spectroscopy measurements with calculations based on fundamental, “first principles” theory to obtain an atomic-scale view of the material.
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.