Generating electricity and hydrogen gas with solar energy

Researchers at Bowling Green State University have developed a new solar technology that could generate electricity during the day and produce hydrogen gas at night. The new solar technology makes use of two new types of nanocrystals that replace the traditional organic molecules in a solar panel’s construction.

The researchers, who have published their findings in JoVE, The Journal of Visualized Experiments, say that the nanocrystals are unique because of they separate charge in different ways and because they are inorganic and durable.

“The first nanocrystal is rod-shaped, which allows the charge separation needed to produce hydrogen gas, a reaction known as photocatalysis. The second nanocrystal is composed of stacked layers and generates electricity, thus being photovoltaic.”

According to the researchers this replacement also makes for a more resilient, longer-lasting solar cell compared to those made with organic molecules, which break down over time from exposure to high heat and UV radiation.

The nanocrystals could potentially create a solar panel and fuel cell combination that would provide clean energy 24 hours a day, while also lasting much longer than the typical 20-year lifespan of today’s conventional solar panels.