Collaborative Research: The Design, Chemistry and Study of Systems for Making Solar Hydrogen
Michael Detty Principal Investigator
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The Chemical Catalysis Program supports a four-way collaboration between Professors Richard Eisenberg and David W. McCamant of the University of Rochester and Michael R. Detty and David Watson of the University at Buffalo on new systems for the visible light-driven generation of hydrogen from aqueous protons, and associated photochemical and photophysical investigations to fully understand this critical transformation. The reaction corresponds to the reductive side of water splitting, which is the key reaction in artificial photosynthesis and the conversion of light into stored chemical potential energy. The research focuses on: (1) systems containing new or unstudied chromophores for light absorption and electron transfer, and catalysts for proton reduction; and (2) systems integration since the robustness and activity of different components affect each other.<br/><br/>Abundant, environmentally-benign energy for sustainable development is one of this century's great scientific and technological challenges, and solar energy conversion is the key long-term strategy to solving this problem. Through the Chemical Catalysis Program, this collaborative research effort will contribute to the fundamental science on which future energy technology can be built and implemented. The entire concept of a hydrogen economy relies on an efficient and robust means to carry out water splitting using the sun as the primary energy source. The broader impacts of the research will manifest themselves in two major ways. First, through the research accomplished, greater knowledge about the reductive side of water splitting will be gained. For the most viable new systems for hydrogen generation, connection to a successful module for water oxidation may yield a system for solar splitting of water. Second, new scientists will be educated and trained to work in this challenging and important subject.