Diagram showing charge transfer in hybrid materials: The inorganic components in the nanocarbons improve charge transfer and thus photocatalytic performance. (Image: Physical Chemistry I, FAU)
EU commission grants 2.88 million euros in funding to ‘Carinhyph’ project
Winning fuel from water is an intriguing idea, but separating water into hydrogen and oxygen initially costs energy. The fuel yield is increased when the sun is used as an additional energy source in the splitting process; the better catalysts utilise the radiation, the more efficiency increases. The working group led by Prof. Dr. Dirk Guldi, Chair of Physical Chemistry I at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), plays an important role in the ‘Carinhyph’ project, which develops materials particularly suited to this task. The European Commission has granted a total of 2.88 million euros in funding to the project.
The funding comes from the 7th Research Framework Programme of the European Union. The project, the full name of which is ‘Bottom-up fabrication of nano carbon-inorganic hybrid materials for photocatalytic hydrogen production’, is to run for three years. The Erlangen Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy is working in international co-operation with six scientific partner institutions.
The designing engineers of the latest generation of catalysts are increasingly eschewing expensive precious metals in favour of carbon. The structures are becoming increasingly intricate, however. Nanotubes or the two-dimensional crystal graphene are used as carriers, for instance. Step by step, in hierarchical order, hybrids are formed from the raw materials, combinations of organic and inorganic materials in nano format. The ‘foreign bodies’ in the carbon grid change the properties of the material, improving charge transfer and thus photocatalytic performance. In order to test them, the hybrids are also to be incorporated into macroscopic structures.
The project is a research co-operation between FAU and the University of Münster; the University of Cambridge, UK; the National Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Science and Technology, Italy; the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology; the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies of Materials, Spain, as a co-ordinator; and two industry partners.