Researchers have discovered a way to trigger artificial photosynthesis, which would help turn greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into clean air and produce energy at the same time.
How does it work?
The team of researchers found a way to set off a chemical reaction in a synthetic material called metal-organic frameworks(MOF), which breaks down carbon dioxide into harmless organic materials.
Similarity to photosynthesis
Although the process is similar to photosynthesis in which plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) and sunlight into food, the difference lies in the fact that the new method produces solar fuel.
The visible range – the violet to red wavelengths – represent the majority of the sun’s rays, however there are only a few materials that pick up these light colours to create the chemical reaction that transforms CO2 into fuel.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays have enough energy to enable the reaction in common materials such as titanium dioxide, but UVs make up only about 4 per cent of the light that Earth receives from the sun.
Researchers have tried it with a variety of materials, but the ones that can absorb visible light tend to be rare and expensive materials such as platinum, rhenium and iridium that make the process cost-prohibitive.