A team of scientists in Kentucky has claimed that they’ve managed to “tweak” an inexpensive semiconductor to generate hydrogen from water using sunlight. Using an alloy that is formed by replacing 2% of the antimony in gallium nitride, it is said to have the right electrical properties that enables solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen through a process known as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. Since the alloy isn’t consumed in the process – it only works as a catalyst for the reaction, it can be reused indefinitely.
In case you didn’t know, Hydrogen is a great and eco-friendly alternative to the non-renewable fossil fuels that we use right now (i.e. coal, oil) but the reason it’s not commonly used is because it is hard to obtain in the wild (it only makes up 0.000055% of our air) and there hasn’t been a cost effective way to unlock it from other compounds – until this alloy was created. The scientists are now working on producing the alloy as well as testing its abilities.
Indefinitely reusable metal, readily available compounds (water and solar energy), and environmental-friendly byproducts – could the end of our energy crisis be near? The future sure is starting to look pretty bright.