Scientists and engineers around the world are working to find a way to power the planet using solar-powered fuel cells. Such green systems would split water during daylight hours, generating hydrogen that could be stored and used later to produce water and electricity. But robust catalysts are needed to drive the water-splitting reaction. Now Caltech chemists have determined the mechanism by which some highly effective cobalt catalysts work.
Providing a possible new route to hydrogen-gas production, researchers at Caltech have devised a series of chemical reactions that allows them, for the first time, to split water in a nontoxic, noncorrosive way, at relatively low temperatures.
It has been 25 years since scientists discovered the first high-temperature superconductors—copper oxides, or cuprates, that conduct electricity without a shred of resistance at temperatures much higher than other superconducting metals. Now, two Caltech chemists have developed a hypothesis to explain the strange behavior of these materials, while also pointing the way to a method for making even higher-temperature superconductors.
In a strategic move to strengthen fundamental science and technology and foster transformational advances in renewable energies, the Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) and Caltech have established a $10 million partnership.
For biochemist and chemical engineer Frances Arnold, the road to success has not been straight and narrow. In fact, she has often bucked the academic tradition of rigorous, time-consuming pre-experiment methodology for a more fast and furious approach to research.
Computers, light bulbs, and even people generate heat—energy that ends up being wasted. Thermoelectric devices, which convert heat to electricity and vice versa, harness that energy. But they're not efficient enough for widespread commercial use or are made from expensive or environmentally harmful rare materials.
Now, Caltech researchers have developed a new type of material—a nanomesh, composed of a thin film with a grid-like arrangement of tiny holes—that could lead to efficient thermoelectric devices.
As part of a broad effort to achieve breakthrough innovations in energy production, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced an award of up to $122 million over five years to a multidisciplinary team of top scientists, led by Caltech, to establish an Energy Innovation Hub aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight.