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Start-up says it can make hydrogen with sunlight and water

  1. Jan 30, 2008 #1


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    The Maynard, Mass.-based company, which Wednesday announced that it has raised $4.7 million, has come up with a low-cost, durable titania electrode that can split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

    Sunlight hits the electrode, and the electrode splits the light into a positive charge (called a hole) and an electron. Before the two charges can rejoin, the electron gets captured by the electrode and then is exploited to split water. Silicon solar cells operate on the same principle.

    Other companies have tried to use titania electrodes for this job in the past, but they broke down relatively rapidly, according to Nanoptek. The company's electrodes work better because, ironically, they are more brittle. The crystal lattice in the electrode is stressed, i.e. additional materials are added. (Semiconductor makers similarly stress their chips with germanium to create strained silicon, which improves performance.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2008 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    I doubt they can do it inexpensively enough to make it commercially viable. Solar cells are expensive.
  4. Jan 30, 2008 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Like so many popular media reports, this is nonsense. Of course we have no way of knowing what the author meant to say.
  5. Jan 30, 2008 #4
    The article makes reference to a microbe that can produce hydrogen with input energy from sunlight.. Would anyone know what the microbe is called and where would you find them?
  6. Jan 31, 2008 #5


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    Could it be purple non-sulfur bacteria? Seems to be the rage.
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