Better together

LICROX researchers are working to create a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) to transform sunlight, water and CO2 into carbon-based molecules capable of storing chemical energy. But creating innovative solutions is no easy task. That is why postdoctoral researchers Dr. Vasilis Nikolaou from ICIQ, Dr. Anna Loiudice from TUM, and Dr. Min Wang from EPFL came together last year to hone their approach.

The LICROX design for the PEC combines different layers to achieve the conversion of sunlight, water and CO2 into carbon-based molecules. Focused on the reduction of CO2, the team of researchers brought together the catalysts and materials they created to ensure the effectiveness of the device. Dr. Nikolaou synthesised a molecular catalyst able to transform CO2 into CO, and during their visit to EPFL, the researchers discovered that by combining the ICIQ-made molecular catalyst with the copper nanoparticles created by Dr. Wang, the reaction was able to carry on and transform CO2 into the desired C2-molecules.

Ensuring the different components interact efficiently is crucial for the project. Knowing that the molecular catalyst and copper tandem works well, the team focused on the next step: combining the tandem with the photocatalyst. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out, as the photo material was too sensible for the potential used to drive the reaction. “Being all together in the same room helped us understand what are the challenges of the different components of the system,” says Dr. Loiudice, who will now tweak the photocatalyst to improve its stability.

“This short research stay was very instructive for me, since I got familiar with the protocols that Min and Anna are using. I believe that our collaboration will assist the progress of LICROX targeting to obtain meaningful results in the field of CO2 reduction” concludes Dr. Nikolaou.

The LICROX researchers have more short stays and visits to the other consortium members to extend knowledge share through the project. For instance, PhD researcher Guanda Zhou from TUM also visited ICIQ late last year.