Materials Research Lectures
The Dark Side of Artificial Photosynthesis
Surface science research focused on phenomena and processes that transpire, without illumination, at the electrode-electrolyte interface has been pursued in the past. A considerable proportion of the earlier work was on materials and reactions related to the fuel-cell anodic oxidation of small molecules. One experimental approach integrated a handful of surface-sensitive physical-analytical methods with traditional electrochemical techniques, all harbored in a single environment-controlled electrochemistry-surface science apparatus (EC-SSA); typically, the catalyst samples were well-defined single-crystal surfaces of catalytically active, albeit precious, noble metals. At the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, attention is no longer on fuel-to-energy generation but on its converse, (solar) energy-to-fuel transformation. The rigorous surface-science protocols remain unchanged but the experimental capabilities have been upscaled by the addition of and focus on in situ and operando characterization techniques, either as EC-SSA components or as stand-alone instruments. The Seminar will describe results selected from previous and on-going experimental studies on the electrochemical surface science of electrocatalysis sine illuminatio.
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