With growing pollution concerns, the need to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the air and produce clean energy, which is in accordance with the changing climate, is paramount. Noticing the non-negotiable need, a team of scientists at the University of Central Florida has paved a way to artificial photosynthesis that was only possible via plants until now.
The new material triggers a chemical reaction by mimicking the blue wavelength coming from sunlight and transforms carbon dioxide into broken forms of formamides and formate, which in turn can be used as energy sources. This synthetic photosynthesis works in sync with plants who convert light energy into chemical energy.
Triggering Right Chemical Reaction Was Tricky
It has always been very difficult to customize materials can absorb a certain color of light and several scientists have tried this before as well, without much success. This hindrance was primarily caused by the rarity of visible-light-absorbing material such as rhenium, iridium, and platinum. Scientists at the University of Central Florida used more common metal, titanium, while organic molecule known as N-alkyl-2-aminoterephthalates acted as antennae in order to absorb the blue light.
Metal-organic framework (MOF), which was already in use to trap and separate gases at high surface areas, is used in this artificial photosynthesis process to soak-up CO2 into its pores while antennae provides the electrons for titanium oxide to convert the CO2 into formate and formamides.
Efficiency Holding Large Scale Synthetic Photosynthesis
With exceeding levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, scientists across the world are working on formulating alternative methods to trap CO2, and this new method of synthetic photosynthesis can go a long way towards developing a technology that can decrease greenhouse gases. However, the efficiency of the system must be increased as well as larger spectrum of visible light is required to be captured in order to truly dent the incrementing pollution levels.