Researchers are close to creating a carbon-recycling system that can tap solar energy for efficient conversion of CO2 and water into liquid fuels. With optimizing several parts of the system, two-electron chemical reactions can be driven. This would be substantial advancement over one-electron reactions in terms of energy efficiency.
Published in Nature Chemistry journal, the research will aid to convert excess carbon dioxide into useful energy sources, as stated by the lead researcher of the study. Hitherto, scientists look upon plants for methods to convert carbon dioxide, sunlight, and water into fuels. Solar energy on hitting plant leaves excites electrons in chlorophyll. Following this, the excited electrons transform water and carbon dioxide into glucose. Two-electron Chemical Reactions are multielectron and multiproton reactions many times.
Biodegradable Plant Pigments to be replaced by Metal Catalysts
So far, biodegradable plant pigments have been converting light energy into chemical energy. A leap from this is use of electron-rich metal catalysts such as gold. At specific wavelengths and light intensities, they can transfer photoexcited protons and electrons to reactants sans degradation or being used up.
The study involved use of spherical gold particles between 13 and 14 nanometers inn size. These nanoparticles display unique optical properties which depends on their shape and size. For example, the nanoparticles when covered with a polymer and suspended in water absorbs green light and throws back a deep red color. In a state of excitement under light, nanoparticles transfer electrons to examine molecules, which then changes color. Scientists can thus measure the efficiency with which electron transfer takes place.