Chemistry Environment Technology

New Advancements in Artificial Photosynthesis and Solar Energy

artificial photosynthesis

Advancements have been made in the generation of energy from solar radiation by chemists from the Universities of Zurich and Basel; they successfully utilized synthetic molecules to recreate one of the essential stages of natural photosynthesis

Following the absorption of solar radiation, green plants are capable of momentarily stocking electric charges through the utilization of what is referred to as a molecular charge accumulator. Synthetic molecules were developed for this special purpose and both teams of researchers successfully observed this phenomenon in the molecules.

A laser was used by the chemists to excite the synthetic molecules, which gave rise to the initial temporary storage of negatively charged particles. The synthetic molecules successfully stored the negative charges for 870 nanoseconds, which is long enough to permit artificial photosynthesis to take place.

A pertinent point to note is that the charge accumulation experiments were performed without the use of any expiatory reagents. Hitherto, the only possible means of charge accumulation in synthetic molecules involved the use of these expiatory reagents. The enormous energy required for this process made it impossible to convert solar radiation to storable chemical energy on a sustainable basis.

Professors Oliver Wenger and Peter Hamm from University of Basel and University of Zurich respectively who led the study together said the findings of their experiments represented significant progress towards the achievement of “synthetic photosynthesis“. They also added that despite the promising signs, a lot is still needed to be done before the intended long term application could be actualized.

Research teams from the Universities of Zurich and Basel are involved in an ongoing analysis into how exactly can the charge accumulation be changed into a chemical fuel. They are inspired by green plants which produce critical energy-rich substances through the process of charge accumulation. They view artificial photosynthesis as a promising component of a prospective long term energy supply.

Their published findings can be found in the international edition of Angewandte Chemie journal.