Plasmon-assisted Artificial Photosynthesis

September 22, 2017

Dr. Martin Moskovits

In the near future, when we manage to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, we will also need to develop sustainable alternatives, preferably ultimately based on solar conversion, for the petrochemicals that currently provide us with our polymers and plastics, solvents, pharmaceuticals, among our many other chemical necessities. At that point in time, solar electricity will likely have become the dominant component of our electrical supply, so that the price of electricity will have decreased to record levels especially during daylight hours when supply outpaces demand. This, in turn may encourage the formation of industries that capitalize on cheap electricity to create valuable chemical products electrochemically, as a more valuable option to passive storage. What if one could capitalize on solar energy in multiple ways, for example, by using solar-generated electricity to carry out electrochemistry while simultaneously illuminating the catalyst to further enhance its activity and/or efficiency. We recently showed, for example, that rate of catalytic decomposition of formic acid, a thermodynamically spontaneous process, is very greatly accelerated through the action of plasmonically generated hot electrons and holes [Wu et al, Adv. Phot. Mater. 2016, 4, 1041–1046].


The presentation will discuss plasmon – mediated artificial photosynthesis.