Solar Energy Lilac Amirav
Nanoscale photocatalysts composed of a quantum dot (green) embedded in a nano-rod (yellow) with a platinum particle on its opposite tip (purple)

When two multidisciplinary centers join forces, there is high energy impact on the world. The focused synergy of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute and the Grand Technion Energy Program is propelling Technion innovations in energy to new dimensions. 

Take water, recruit the energy of the sun, and split the water into hydrogen and oxygen. What do you get? An infinite source of renewable energy. At the lab of Prof. Lilac Amirav, a perfect 100% lightto-hydrogen gas conversion efficiency has been introduced through solar water splitting, as reported in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

These results surpass all previous benchmark conventions for all systems, optimizing this particular half reaction. The impressive efficiency was achieved through the use of unique nanoparticle photocatalysts.

From the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry to the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, hydrogen breakthroughs are making headlines. According to a prize-winning paper on solar fuels published in the prestigious journal Science by Prof. Yeshayahu Lifshitz and his Chinese colleagues, obstacles include the low solar to hydrogen energy conversion efficiency; poor catalytic stability; and the high cost of catalyst materials, often containing rare and precious metals.

Yet Prof. Lifshitz and his colleagues were able to overcome these problems by developing a cheap, metal free, Earth-abundant and environmentally friendly catalyst made of a carbon nanodot–carbon nitride (C3N4) nanocomposite.

Their findings showed a 2,000% higher performance efficiency (20 times larger) as compared with other stable catalysts previously reported, working with unchanged hydrogen output for more than 200 days.