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Strategic Research Initiatives

Atomic-Scale Design Of Oxide Heterojunctions For Energy Conversion

Elif Ertekin (217-333-8175) mechanical science and engineering; Lane Martin and Angus Rockett, materials science and engineering; Ed Seebauer, chemical and biomolecular engineering

Addressing the Problem

By 2030, several hundred GW of energy worldwide must originate from low-carbon sources to cap atmospheric CO2 concentrations at levels deemed “lower-risk” by scientific consensus. Water-splitting photocatalysts (sunlight to hydrogen fuel) and photovoltaics (sunlight to electricity) are potential candidates, but they remain too inefficient and expensive. Photocatalysis offers a promising approach to energy production, and also has applications in environmental remediation.

Research Goals

To produce greatly improved photocatalysts for solar hydrogen production as well as energy-efficient environmental remediation, researchers are pursuing a transformative approach for designing and synthesizing oxide heterojunctions for photocatalytic (PC) energy conversion devices. A primary goal is to demonstrate a TiO2-SrRuO3 heterostructure that has a photoactivity that is at least two orders of magnitude higher than “ordinary” thin-film anatase TiO2.