Solar Photochemistry

This research area supports molecular-level research on solar energy capture and conversion in the condensed phase and at interfaces. These investigations of solar photochemical energy conversion focus on the elementary steps of light absorption, electrical charge generation, and charge transport within a number of chemical systems, including those with significant nanostructured composition. Supported research areas include organic and inorganic photochemistry and photocatalysis, photoinduced electron and energy transfer in the condensed phase and across interfaces, photoelectrochemistry, and artificial assemblies for charge separation and transport that mimic natural photosynthetic systems. This research area, with its integration of physical and synthetic scientists devoted to solar photochemistry, is unique to DOE. Capital equipment funding is provided for items such as ultrafast laser systems, scanning tunneling microscopes, fast Fourier transform infrared and Raman spectrometers, and computational resources.

Solar photochemical energy conversion is an important option for generating electricity and chemical fuels and therefore plays a vital role in DOE’s development of solar energy as a viable component of the nation’s energy supply. Photoelectrochemistry provides an alternative to semiconductor photovoltaic cells for electricity generation from sunlight using closed, renewable energy cycles. Solar photocatalysis, achieved by coupling artificial photosynthetic systems for light harvesting and charge transport with the appropriate electrochemistry, provides a direct route to the generation of fuels such as hydrogen, methane, and complex hydrocarbons. Fundamental concepts derived from studying highly efficient excited-state charge separation and transport in molecular assemblies is also applicable to future molecular optoelectronic device development.

To obtain more information about this research area, please see the proceedings of our Principal Investigators' Meetings. To better understand how this research area fits within the Department of Energy's Office of Science, please refer to the Basic Energy Science's organization chart and budget request.

For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Christopher Fecko.