New Nanowires Have Efficient Water Splitting, Solar Energy Storage Features

First Posted: Feb 03, 2016 03:39 PM EST

Solar energy is on the rise and it is being increasingly adopted by more regions. California, for instance, is scheduled to have 33 percent of its energy come from renewable resources by 2020. However, solar energy requires transformation into a storable form. In a recent study, researchers announced that nanowires that are made from multiple metal oxides can place solar power at the top of all renewable energy sources.

Scientists found that one way to harness solar power for broader use is through photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting that provides hydrogen for fuel cells.

The researchers of the study developed a system where nanowires from titanium dioxide (TiO2) acts as a "host" for "guest" nanoparticles from another oxide known as BiVO4 (Bismuth vanadate). BiVO4 is material known for absorbing light and performing the water splitting reaction, however, BiVO4 does not carry charge well. TiO2 on the other hand, is an efficient charge carrier and it is inexpensive, but does not absorb light quite well. Both materials with a nanowire arrangement creates a new process that functions better together than by itself.

The researchers claimed that their new technique can be applied to photoconversion materials to improve efficiency.

The findings of this study were published in ACS Central Science.

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