Seminar Today: Prof. Graetzel - Light and Energy, Mimicking Natural Photosynthesis

Jacob Woodruff jacobw at
Thu Oct 26 15:32:47 PDT 2006

Stanford University Chemistry Department 
Student Hosted Colloquium

"Light and Energy, Mimicking Natural Photosynthesis"
Professor Michael Graetzel, 
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Sponsored by Rohm & Haas

4:15PM Today, October 26th, 2006 
Braun Auditorium (Mudd Chemistry Building)

About the seminar
Chemistry is expected to make important contributions to identify environmentally friendly solutions of the current energy problem. One attractive strategy discussed in this lecture is the development of systems that mimic natural photosynthesis in the conversion of solar energy. The task to be accomplished is to harvest sunlight and convert it to electricity or use photons to drive an uphill chemical reaction, such as the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Learning from the concepts used by green plants we have developed a molecular photovoltaic system that attains currently and overall efficiency for the conversion of solar to electric power of over 11%. The system is based on the sensitization of nanocrystalline oxide films by a molecular dye or a quantum dot [1,2]. The salient features of the processes of light harvesting by the sensitizer, interfacial charge separation and the collection of the photo-generated carriers involved in the photo-conversion step will be discussed. Impressive stability both under long-term light soaking and high temperature stress has recently been reached fostering practical applications. These systems will promote the acceptance of renewable energy technologies, not least by setting new standards of convenience and economy. The newly developed mesoscopic solar cells have meanwhile found use in tandem devices for the cleavage of water into hydrogen and oxygen by sunlight. 

1) B. O'Regan and M. Grätzel "A Low Cost, High Efficiency Solar Cell " Nature, London 353, 1991.
2) M Grätzel , "Photoelectrochemical Cells" Nature 414, 338344 (2001), 

About Graetzel: 
Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Michael Graetzel directs there the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces. He discovered a new type of solar cell based on dye sensitized mesoscopic oxide particles and pioneered the use of nanocrystalline materials in electroluminscent and electrochromic displays as well as lithium ion batteries and bioelectronic sensors. Author of over 500 publications, two books and inventor of more than 50 patents, he ranks amongst the most highly cited scientists worldwide. He has received numerous prestigious awards, including the European Millennium Innovation award, the Faraday Medal of the British Royal Society of Chemistry, the Dutch Havinga award, the Italgas prize and the Gerischer award. Last year he was selected by the Scientific American as one of the 50 top researchers in the world. He received a doctor's degree in Natural Science from the Technical University Berlin and honorary doctors degrees from the Universities of Uppsala, Turin and the Delft University of Technology. He is a member of the Swiss Chemical Society as well as of the European Academy of Science and was elected honorary member of the Société Vaudoise de Sciences Naturelles. 

Please contact Patricia Dwyer at 650-723-4770.
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