Two-dimensional material could revolutionize solar fuel generation

A new two-dimensional material could revolutionize the field of solar fuel generation.

Tyler MacDonald | Oct 10, 2019

A team of researchers just created a new two-dimensional material, single-layer material that could revolutionize solar fuel generationby changing nanotechnology and nonoengineering development.

"The material we synthesized can act as a photocatalyst to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, so that electricity can be generated from hydrogen, among several other potential applications," said Douglas Soares Galvo, one of the study's authors.

The team extracted the 2-D material, which is called hematene, from standard iron ore through the exfoliation of hematiteone of the Earth's most common minerals and a primary source of iron in many products.

"Most of the 2-D materials synthesized to date were derived from samples of van der Waals solids," Galvo said. "Non-van der Waals 2-D materials with highly ordered atomic layers and large grains are still rare."

Materials that are non-van der Waals are tied together by 3-D bonding networks as opposed to the weakeratomic van der Waals interactions.

"Hematene may be an efficient photocatalyst, especially for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, and could also serve as an ultrathin magnetic material for spintronic-based devices," he added.

Also known as magnetoelectronics, spintronics is a novel technology used to display, store, and process information based on changes caused by electron spin.

The team has also examined other materials for their potential to create additional 2-D materials with unique and useful properties.

"There are a number of other iron oxides and derivatives thereof that are candidates for originating new 2-D materials," Galvo said.

The findings were published in Nature Nanotechnology.