FCE Distinguished Lecture on "Fueling Human Progress with Sunlight"
The recent rapid, global growth of solar photovoltaics has moved scientific research frontiers for solar energy conversion towards new opportunities such as i) ultrahigh efficiency (η = 30-50% and beyond) photovoltaics and ii) direct synthesis of energy-dense chemical fuels from solar energy, including hydrogen and products from reduction of carbon dioxide. I will illustrate several examples of how photonic design combined with material synthesis advances can enable progress in each of these areas. Photonic design with highly luminescent semiconductors has opened new directions for ultrahigh efficiency photovoltaics. Semiconductors coupled to water oxidation and reduction catalysts have enabled approaches to stable, >10% efficiency solar-to-hydrogen generation using artificial photosynthetic structures. Present work and future directions in electrocatalytic and photocatalytic materials for artificial photosynthesis aimed at catalytic reduction of carbon dioxide will also be discussed.