With the use of a new artificial material, scientists will be able to generate a sustainable source of energy that works similarly to photosynthesis, according to a researcher at Florida State University.
"In theory, this should be a self-sustaining energy source," said Jose L. Mendoza-Cortes, an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, who created the new technique. "Perhaps in the future, you could put this material on your roof and it could turn rain water into energy with the help of the sun," said Mendoza-Cortes in a news release.
The new material efficiently captures sunlight, then the energy can be used to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen. This process is known as oxidation; photosynthesis in plants works in a similar manner.
Mendoza-Cortes' new discovery could be used to create potential energy sources that are carbon free, and in addition, hydrogen can be distributed in various locations and can be burned as fuel. This approach will not pose any hazards or threats to the environment, according to the researcher.
"You won't generate carbon dioxide or waste," said Mendoza-Cortes.
In his experiment, Mendoza-Cortes focused on created a material that did not rust from the process of breaking down water that also trapped the energy and was inexpensive to create.
Mendoza-Cortes created a multilayered material from manganese oxide, which is also known as birnessite. When he and his team peeled the layers of the material, it began trapping light at a fast rate. They referred to the material transitioning from an indirect band gap material to a direct band gap one. Light with photo energy can penetrate indirect band gap materials efficiently, without being absorbed, according to the researchers.
"This is why the discovery of this direct band gap material is so exciting," said Mendoza-Cortes. "It is cheap, it is efficient and you do not need a large amount to capture enough sunlight to carry out fuel generation."
This study was published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
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