For the first time, scientists have managed to create a new iron molecule that can work on the principle of a photocatalyst to produce not only fuel, but also in solar panels to generate electricity. The results of experimental studies show that such material can replace the more rare and expensive metals that are part of photovoltaic modules.
Photocatalysts and solar panels contain molecular metal particles whose main function is to absorb and convert the sun’s rays into electricity. The crux of the matter is that these are mainly expensive and rare compounds of osmium, iridium, ruthenium, belonging to the group of noble metals, which do not undergo oxidation and corrosion.
Experimental studies show that thanks to the improved structure of the Fe molecule, it can be used in the manufacture of batteries. This is a common element, and therefore not expensive.
This project to find a worthy replacement for expensive and rare metals in the production of solar panels has long been carried out by Professor of Chemistry Kenneth Warmark from the Lund Research Institute in Sweden. As a result of many years of activity, they focused their attention on the ferum, which makes up a noticeable share in the composition of the earth’s crust. Thanks to the work carried out, completely new molecules were invented, characterized by great potential and proving the effectiveness of their use in solar energy, which was made public.
However, the latest data allowed them to go even further and optimize a new molecular structure around the Fe atom, which can capture and use the sun’s energy for a long time long enough for it to react with another molecule.
The data was published in the journal Science. Such a microparticle of iron can be used in modern types of photocatalysts to generate photovoltaic energy, also in the form of hydrogen through water separation, or in the form of methanol from carbon dioxide. In addition, the data obtained make it possible to further expand the field of application of new molecules, for example, as materials for LED light sources.
Researchers at Lund University, as well as their colleagues from Uppsala and Copenhagen universities, who took part in the development, are surprised that they managed to achieve such good results in a short period of time. So, over the past five years, it turned out to find such a chemical version of iron, which becomes interesting for heliochemical use and its properties in this case are better than the properties of the precious metals used.