A Way To Help Reduce Global Warming Is Through Solar Energy Conversion

The Earth’s subsurface is home to limited and unevenly dispersed fossil fuel supplies. When fossil fuels are used to create energy, they frequently release pollutants into the atmosphere that are bad for human health and greenhouse gases that endanger the planet’s climate. Contrarily, solar energy is a desirable alternative energy source because it is readily accessible and doesn’t harm the environment or the climate. The most abundant energy source on earth, sunlight is also one of the most adaptable, easily converting to electricity, fuel, and heat, according to Crabtree. To increase solar energy conversion efficiency by a factor of five or ten is the task. Understanding fundamental conversion events at the nanoscale is necessary for this. We have only begun to explore this vibrant area of inquiry.

The three methods of solar conversion are all the subject of cutting-edge basic research at Argonne. The group is developing next-generation nanostructured solar cells with titanium dioxide and chemical dyes in place of costly silicon utilizing sophisticated atomic layer deposition processes. With the use of basic chemical elements, its synthetic photosynthesis program mimics nature by turning sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide into fuels like hydrogen, methane, and ethanol. Its research on thermoelectric materials turns solar heat directly into electricity. The findings in the report of the Basic Energy Sciences Workshop on Solar Energy Utilization, funded by the US Department of Energy, are the foundation of the Physics Today article. The workshop’s co-chairs and chief editors of the report were Crabtree and Lewis.

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