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PEC'sPhotoelectrochemical Cells (PECs):
Fabrication, Assembly & Catalytic Evaluation

Hierarchical assembly is a viable approach to the formation of functional materials with operational components spanning multiple length scales. Such assembly methods could be applied to produce capillary reactor components for large-scale production of H2 and O2 from water and sunlight. The objective of this research is to produce a photoelectrochemical cell based on the spatial organization of nanostructured components up to the macroscale, leading to efficient catalysis.

Photocatalysis of water splitting requiring multiple electron-transfer steps has been demonstrated using functionalized materials containing various structural features that play individual roles. The challenge is to create a well-coordinated ensemble of events, which requires structural precision in features, such as crystal morphology and interfaces.

A key transformative aspect of this project is the potential to fabricate and demonstrate a photocatalyst system based on mimicry of photosynthesis. The materials available to date do not approach the complexity and organization found in nature, and exhibit low efficiency photocatalysis at prohibitive cost.  Our approach is expected to yield an advanced catalyst material for the large scale and efficient production of hydrogen and oxygen from water using sunlight to power the endothermic reaction.