Molecular assemblies created to convert water to hydrogen gas

Aug 25, 2004

Wonder where the fuel will come from for tomorrow's hydrogen-powered vehicles? Virginia Tech researchers are developing catalysts that will convert water to hydrogen gas.
The research will be presented at the 228th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Philadelphia August 22-26, 2004

Supramolecular complexes created by Karen Brewer's group at Virginia Tech convert light energy (solar energy) into a fuel that can be transported, stored, and dispensed, such as hydrogen gas.
The process has been called artificial photosynthesis, says Brewer, associate professor of chemistry. "Light energy is converted to chemical energy. Solar light is of sufficient energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, but this does not happen on its own; we need a catalysts to make this reaction occur."

One major challenge is to use light to bring together the multiple electrons needed for fuel production reactions. Electrons are the negatively charged particles that surround an atom's nucleus, allowing atoms to react and form bonds.

Previous research has focused on collecting electrons using light energy. The Brewer group has gone the next step and created molecular machines that use light to bring electrons together (photoinitiated electron collection) then deliver the electrons to the fuel precursor, in this case, water, to produce hydrogen.

The researchers create a large molecular assembly called a supramolecular complex. Light signals this molecular assembly or machine to collect electrons and make them available for delivery to substrates.

Water is readily available and cheap, says Brewer, "but, so far, our compound is expensive. The goal is to make it catalytic and to couple it to oxygen production. We are working to build a supramolecular complex that will initiate the collection and movement of electrons and bonding of atoms without being destroyed in the process, so we don't have to build another molecular machine every time we want to convert water to hydrogen." Our systems do functioning catalytically but the efficiency needs to be enhanced.

Mark Elvington, a graduate student in chemistry, will present the research, "Photochemical reactivity of mixed-metal supramolecular complexes: Applications as photochemical molecular devices," at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 25, at Pennsylvania Convention Center room113A. Co-authors are Brewer, Elvington, and Ran Miao, also a Ph.D. student in chemistry at Virginia Tech from Fudan University.

Source: Virginia Tech

Explore further: First glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Humble neutron is valuable tool in geology

Mar 16, 2015

With the ability to analyse the properties of the Earth's internal components to the atomic scale in conditions only found kilometres below our feet, recent studies have allowed geoscientists to study our ...

Uncovering the secrets of super solar power perovskites

Mar 16, 2015

The best hope for cheap, super-efficient solar power is a remarkable family of crystalline materials called hybrid perovskites. In just five years of development, hybrid perovskite solar cells have attained ...

Recommended for you

First glimpse inside a macroscopic quantum state

51 minutes ago

In a recent study published in Physical Review Letters, the research group led by ICREA Prof at ICFO Morgan Mitchell has detected, for the first time, entanglement among individual photon pairs in a beam ...

Theory of the strong interaction verified

14 hours ago

The fact that the neutron is slightly more massive than the proton is the reason why atomic nuclei have exactly those properties that make our world and ultimately our existence possible. Eighty years after ...

Fluctuation X-ray scattering

17 hours ago

In biology, materials science and the energy sciences, structural information provides important insights into the understanding of matter. The link between a structure and its properties can suggest new ...

Understanding spectral properties of broadband biphotons

18 hours ago

Advances in quantum optical technologies require scientists to control and exploit the properties of so-called biphotons. Biphotons occur when two photons become 'quantum-entangled' - spatially separate entities ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.