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UK Team Uses LaFeO3 To Generate Hydrogen From Sunlight

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Photo-electrode made from novel compound semiconductor could be a new way to split water for environmentally-friendly fuels, say researchers

A team from the University of Exeter in the UK has pioneered a new technique to produce hydrogen from sunlight to create a clean, cheap and widely-available fuel, using a novel compound semiconductor.

The research centres on the use of a photo-electrode made from a lanthanum iron oxide semiconducting material. The researchers believe this new type of photo-electrode is not only cheap to produce, but can also be recreated on a larger scale for mass and worldwide use. The paper 'Unbiased Spontaneous Solar fuel Production using Stable LaFeO3 Photoelectrode' is published in Scientific Reports.

Govinder Pawar lead author on the paper and based at the University of Exeter's Environment and Sustainability Institute on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall said: "We have shown that our LaFeO3 photo-electrode has ideal band alignments needed to split water into its constituents (H2 and O2) spontaneously, without the need of an external bias. Moreover, our material has excellent stability where after 21 hours of testing it does not degrade, ideal for water splitting purpose. We are currently working on further improving our material to make it more efficient to produce more hydrogen."

Pawar added: "With growing economies and population, fossil fuels will not be able to sustain the global energy demand in a 'clean' manner as they are being exhausted at an alarming rate.

"Alternative renewable fuels sources must be found which can sustain the global energy demand. Hydrogen is a promising alternative fuel source capable of replacing fossil fuels as it has a higher energy density than fossil fuels (more than double), zero carbon emissions and the only by-product is water."


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