Liquid sunlight

Materials & Solutions


16:00 - 16:45

Solar-to-chemical (STC) production using a fully integrated system is an attractive goal, but to-date there has yet to be a system that can demonstrate the required efficiency, durability, or be manufactured at a reasonable cost. One can learn a great deal from the natural photosynthesis where the conversion of carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates is routinely carried out at a highly coordinated system level. There are several key features worth mentioning in these systems: spatial and directional arrangement of the light-harvesting components, charge separation and transport, as well as the desired chemical conversion at catalytic sites in compartmentalized spaces.

In order to design an efficient artificial photosynthetic materials system, at the level of the individual components: better catalysts need to be developed, new light-absorbing semiconductor materials will need to be discovered, architectures will need to be designed for effective capture and conversion of sunlight, and more importantly, processes need to be developed for the efficient coupling and integration of the components into a complete artificial photosynthetic system.

In this talk I will begin by discussing the challenges associated with fixing CO2 through traditional chemical catalytic means, contrasted with the advantages and strategies that biology employs through enzymatic catalysts to produce more complex molecules at higher selectivity and efficiency. I then discuss a number of different photosynthetic biohybrid systems (PBS) architectures from the last few years, and the numerous strategies to interface biotic and abiotic components. Each demonstrates the advantages of PBSs in converting sunlight, H2O and CO2 into food, fuels, pharmaceuticals, and materials. Finally, I will outline the future of this field, opportunities for improvement, and its role in sustainable living here on Earth, and beyond.

Peidong Yang2

Peidong Yang

Peidong Yang is a Chemistry professor, S. K. and Angela Chan Distinguished Chair P...