It is a promising means of generating clean and storable energy. A novel catalyst based on semiconductor nano-particles can facilitate all the reactions needed for artificial photosynthesis. Practical ways for the photo-catalytic splitting of water molecules use synthetic components to mimic the complex processes that take place during natural photosynthesis.
Physicists at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in collaboration with chemists at the University of Würzburg have succeeded in demonstrating the complete splitting of water with the help of an all-in-one catalytic system for the first time.
In such systems, semiconductor nano-particles that absorb light quanta (photons) can, in principle, serve as the photo-catalysts. Absorption of a photon generates a negatively charged particle (an electron) and a positively charged species known as a 'hole', and the two must be spatially separated so that a water molecule can be reduced to hydrogen by the electron and oxidized by the hole to form oxygen