Researchers from two different universities Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology in Daejon and Ewha Womans University in Seoul have successfully demonstrated that Graphene can be used as a photocatalyst directly to improve efficiency of artificial photosynthesis.
A good photocatalyst, as explained by researchers, is the one that can operate in the visible light spectrum. The reason for this is that 46% of the total sunlight that reaches the earth is visible light. Previously there were instances where composites of Graphene were used for such a process but, they didn’t yield positive results because of their low electron transfer capabilities.
In the latest study researchers were able to use Graphene itself as the photocatalyst that was coupled with a porphyrin enzyme. The scientists were able to demonstrate that this material was able to convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into formic acid. Formic acid is a chemical used in plastic industry and as fuel in fuel cells.
Results indicate that such a photocatalyst is highly functional in the visible light spectrum and the overall efficiency is significantly higher than the efficiencies of other photocatalysts.
“The photocatalyst-enzyme coupled system is one of the most ideal artificial photosynthesis systems that utilize solar energy for the synthesis of various chemicals and fuel,” coauthor Jin-Ook Baeg at the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology told Phys.org.