|The NSF Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels focuses on one of the “holy-grails” of 21st Century chemistry – the efficient and economical conversion of solar energy into stored chemical fuel. CCI Solar has played a leading role in fundamental research in this area, addressing basic science challenges in solar fuel production since its inception in 2005 as a Phase I "Chemical Bonding Center". The Principle Investigators (PIs) in the Center have helped foster the rapidly growing national and international solar fuels research community. |
Given the growing global demand for energy and our increasing dependence on fossil fuels, the need for renewable fuels from sunlight is greater than ever. CCI Solar was the first major academic research center in the US to target the problem of solar fuel production. The PIs in CCI Solar are committed to working together as a team to develop the fundamental knowledge necessary for large-scale production of solar fuels.
Solar energy research is inherently interdisciplinary, involving chemical synthesis, solid state chemistry and physics, electrochemistry, chemical kinetics and mechanism, and theoretical and computational chemistry. In addition, it involves concepts of homogeneous and interfacial chemistry between solids, liquids, and gases. Investigators in CCI Solar are focusing on fundamental research to develop the scientific basis of building a solar water splitting system.
CCI Solar research targets critical basic-science challenges facing efficient, solar-driven conversion of water to H2 and O2. Understanding the fundamental processes of light absorption, charge transport, and multielectron redox catalysis is the overarching goal of the CCI Solar program. These processes must ultimately work in concert. Knowing the enormous size of the energy sector, our work focuses on materials and molecular complexes compatible with wide spread use. Research focuses on three primary areas: development of enhanced light absorbers; discovery of optimized catalyst materials; and integration of components into functional assemblies.
In conjunction with the CCI Solar research program are a number of outreach projects that target students and adults in various settings to engage them in the scientific research of developing a solar conversion device. See the Outreach tab at left.