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Bright iron molecule can provide cheaper solar energy – ScienceDaily

For the first time, researchers have managed to create an iron molecule that can act as a photocatalyst to produce…

For the first time, researchers have managed to create an iron molecule that can act as a photocatalyst to produce fuel and in solar cells to produce electricity. The results indicate that the iron molecule can replace the more expensive and rare metals used today.

Some photocatalysts and solar cells are based on a technique that includes molecules containing metals known as metal complexes. The task of the metal complexes in this context is to absorb sun rays and utilize their energy. The metals in these molecules, however, constitute a major problem, as they are rare and expensive metals, such as the ruthenium, osmium and iridium precious metals.

“Our results now show that using advanced molecular constructions it is possible to replace the rare metals with iron, which is common in the Earth’s crust and therefore cheap,” says chemistry professor Kenneth Wärnmark at Lund University in Sweden.

Kenneth Wärnmark has worked with colleagues for a long time to find alternatives to expensive metals. The researchers focused on iron as with its six percent prevalence in the crust is much easier to source. The researchers have produced their own iron-based molecules whose potential for use in solar applications has been proven in previous studies.

In this new study, researchers have moved a step further and developed a new iron-based molecule capable of capturing and utilizing solar energy for a long time to react with another molecule. The new iron molecule also has the ability to glow long enough to allow researchers to see iron-based light with the naked eye at room temperature for the first time.

“The good result is due to the fact that we have optimized the molecular structure around the iron atom,” explains colleague Petter Persson at Lund University.

The study is now published in the journal Science . According to researchers, the iron molecule may be used in new types of photocatalysts for the production of solar fuel, either as hydrogen by water separation or as carbon dioxide. In addition, the new results open other potential uses for iron molecules, for example as material in LEDs.

What surprised Lund researchers is that they achieved good results so quickly. In just over five years, they managed to make iron interesting for photochemical applications, with properties that are almost as good as the best precious metals.

“We thought it would take at least ten years “, says Kenneth Wärnmark. [1

9659003] In addition to the researchers from Lund University, colleagues from Uppsala were also universities et and Copenhagen University involved in the cooperation.

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