Rays of Hope

Air Force Office of Scientific Research-sponsored researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are investigating affordable and efficient methods of storing solar energy so that entire buildings could be powered daily using only a few gallons of water and the sun’s light. The key is to be able to harness the power from the stored energy throughout the day even when the sun is not out. MIT’s team, led by Dr. Daniel Nocera, is pursuing artificial photosynthesis—splitting the bonds of water to produce oxygen and hydrogen—as the means to release the energy. The team is using cobalt and phosphate catalysts which allow the water molecules to be split in an environmentally friendly manner. The ultimate goal of this research is to have buildings serve as their own power stations. (AFOSR report by Molly Lachance)