Developing a scalable artificial photosynthesis technology through nanomaterials by design

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

49 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An artificial photosynthetic system that directly produces fuels from sunlight could provide an approach to scalable energy storage and a technology for the carbon-neutral production of high-energy-density transportation fuels. A variety of designs are currently being explored to create a viable artificial photosynthetic system, and the most technologically advanced systems are based on semiconducting photoelectrodes. Here, I discuss the development of an approach that is based on an architecture, first conceived around a decade ago, that combines arrays of semiconducting microwires with flexible polymeric membranes. I highlight the key steps that have been taken towards delivering a fully functional solar fuels generator, which have exploited advances in nanotechnology at all hierarchical levels of device construction, and include the discovery of earth-abundant electrocatalysts for fuel formation and materials for the stabilization of light absorbers. Finally, I consider the remaining scientific and engineering challenges facing the fulfilment of an artificial photosynthetic system that is simultaneously safe, robust, efficient and scalable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1019
Number of pages10
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Volume11
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016

Fingerprint

photosynthesis
Photosynthesis
Nanostructured materials
Polymeric membranes
electrocatalysts
Electrocatalysts
sunlight
energy storage
nanotechnology
Nanotechnology
Energy storage
absorbers
generators
Carbon
flux density
Stabilization
stabilization
Earth (planet)
engineering
membranes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Cite this

Developing a scalable artificial photosynthesis technology through nanomaterials by design. / Lewis, Nathan S.

In: Nature Nanotechnology, Vol. 11, No. 12, 01.12.2016, p. 1010-1019.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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