Researchers, led by Professor Juan Bisquert, from the Universitat Jaume I in Spain, have developed a device which uses semiconductor materials to generate hydrogen from water using only sunlight.
Hydrogen is an extremely abundant element on Earth's surface – but in combination with oxygen as water (H20). The hydrogen molecule (H2) contains a great amount of energy that can be released when burned producing water as the result of this combustion process.
The research team used nanotechnology to develop a semiconductor device which is submerged in a solution consisting of a catalyst in water. When illuminated with light, hydrogen gas bubbles form on the device.
"Although the energy efficiency of the device is still not sufficient enough for us to consider marketing it, we are exploring various ways to improve its efficiency and to show that this technology represents a real alternative to meet the energy demands of the 21st century," comments Sixto Giménez, one of the researchers responsible for the investigation.