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In the quest for the production of renewable and clean energy, photo electrochemical cells (PECs) constitute a sort of a Holy Grail. PECs are devices able of splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen in a single operation, thanks to solar radiation.

Recently researchers have managed to accurately characterize the iron oxide nanostructures to be used in order to produce hydrogen at the lowest possible cost. The whole point of their approach is to use an exceptionally abundant, stable and cheap material: rust.

·         At the end of last year, researcher have presented prototype electrode based on the same principle. Its efficiency was such that gas bubbles emerged as soon as it was under a light stimulus. Without a doubt, the potential of such cheap electrodes was demonstrated, even if there was still room for improvement.

·         By using transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, researchers were able to precisely characterize the movement of the electrons through the cauliflower-looking nanostructures forming the iron oxide particles, laid on electrodes during the manufacturing process.

·         By comparing several electrodes, whose manufacturing method is now mastered, scientists were able to identify the "champion" structure. A 10x10 cm prototype has been produced and its effectiveness is in line with expectations.

 

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Source: Sciencedaily