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The Artificial Leaf

Climate-neutral method of producing hydrogen

Doctoral candidates Herman Kriegel, Ragle Raudsepp and Jiri Kollmann take us into their laboratories and show us how the photoelectrodes are produced and studied.

Doctoral candidates Herman Kriegel, Ragle Raudsepp and Jiri Kollmann take us into their laboratories and show us how the photoelectrodes are produced and studied. Photo: Hereon/Christian Schmid

When it comes to renewable energies, hydrogen as an energy carrier can't be ignored. Hereon scientists are working on a climate-neutral method of producing hydrogen in which sunlight is directly utilised to split water: this is known as photoelectrochemical water splitting. The method breaks water down into its hydrogen and oxygen components. In a similar way to photosynthesis, solar energy is converted into chemical energy. Instead of a plant’s leaf, however, the scientists use, for example, photoactive material layers. The best materials are still very expensive and complicated to produce. For this reason, employees in the Department for Sustainable Energy Technology at the Institute of Materials Research are developing surfaces that can be produced cost-efficiently.

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