Photo conversion materials group:

Solar Fuels: direct conversion of sunlight to fuel

Movie of hydrogen evolution from NaTaO3 powder that was synthesized in our lab by Jonas Voorzanger and Leo Polak

Semiconducting powders that are dispersed in water have the potential to create fuels when illuminated by sunlight. Such fuels can be used for long term storage of solar energy.


To match solar energy supply (during the day) and energy demand, storage is required. The highest energy density for energy storage is obtained using fuels. Fuels for storage range from synthetic hydrocarbons (like petrol or methanol) to hydrogen. Also nitrogen-containing fuels are considered, such as ammonia (NH3) or hydrazine (N2H2).

Our work

Presently we focus on photocatalytic hydrogen production, using inorganic crystals dispersed in water. In particular, we use Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM) to investigate and tune surface electrical properties to optimize the catalytic process.

We use NaTaO3 (see movie)  as our main model system. Currently we have the following capabilities within our group: