The scientists covered tiny particles of tungsten oxide with iron oxide to mimic the way moth eyes gather light. Moth light absorption is highly efficient, for survival reasons—because the eyes barely reflect any light, they don’t attract the attention of predators.
And where most solar panels convert light to electricity, these devices use solar rays to split water molecules and produce pure hydrogen fuel. Which deals with the storage problem associated with solar power. The research will appear in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. [Florent Boudoire et al, Photonic light trapping in self-organized all-oxide microspheroids impacts photoelectrochemical water splitting]
Stanford University researchers are likewise exploring ways to bypass electricity generation when splitting water molecules. Their work combines into a single unit the photoelectric cells that gather sunlight and the electrolyzer that produces hydrogen. They published their research last fall in the journal Science. [Michael J. Kenney et al, High-Performance Silicon Photoanodes Passivated with Ultrathin Nickel Films for Water Oxidation]
Both projects are part of an effort to get solar to better compete with cheap fossil fuels. And bring heliocentrism to the power supply.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]