Women in Nanoscience

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Women in Nano Blog

Can you use the sun to split water to make hydrogen fuel?

Posted on March 6, 2016 at 9:15 PM

Renewable energy sources, like wind, are making real inroads to transform our energy portfolio into a sustainable pathway. But we continue to need liquid fuels for transportation, in our cars, trucks, and planes. Alternatives to oil are not easy to find. Hydrogen-fueled cars have been suggested as such an alternative, if the infrastructure for a “fill up” was in place. But where will the hydrogen fuel come from?


(Prof. Amirav in her lab at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology).


Prof. Lilac Amirav and her research associate, Yifat Nakibli, at Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, have developed a new technique to achieve 100% efficiency of the photon-to-hydrogen transition using a catalyst to split water into oxygen and hydrogen under visible light (the photon source). This system could lead to a novel solar-to-fuel conversion technology. Amirav, Nakibli and first-author Philip Kalisman, used cadmium selenide (CdSe) quantum dots within a cadmium sulphide (CdS) quantum rod with a platinum catalyst. The main advantage of this unusual material system is the spatial separation that it provides between electrons and holes so that charge can be separated to their relative electrodes and hence an electrical current can flow. Intrigued to know more?... then read their article recently published in NanoLetters (DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b04813).


(Dr. Yifat Nakibli received her PhD in chemical engineering at Technion in 2013. Since then she has been working as a researcher and lab manger in Prof. Amirav’s group in the chemistry department. This picture was taken from her family trip to Germany.)


Prof. Amirav grew up in Israel and has had a passion for environmental sustainability and green/renewable energy issues since she was a child. She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tel Aviv University when she was only 18. After completing her PhD from Technion, she was a post-doc with Alivisatos at Berkeley where she began the nanorod studies. Amirav is now an Assistant Professor in Chemistry at Technion, where she is a member of both RBNI (Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute) and GTEP (Grand Technion Energy Program) and she is on the national I-CORE Solar Fuels research team.


(Prof. Amirav loves to travel with her family. This is her picture with her two children during a family trip to California. “I enjoy traveling with my family and spending time with my two wonderful boys. Being a mom strengthens my motivation to work on this research since I feel it is our duty to try and create a cleaner and more sustainable world for the next generation. I believe that the search for clean and renewable energy sources is absolutely crucial.")



- Written by Nakita Sengar, edited by Paulette Clancy


(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Prof. Lilac Amirav and Dr. Yifat Nakibli, credits to: Lilac in the lab: Dr. Yifat Nakibli.)

Categories: WINnews

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