New Solar Cell Generates Electricity and Hydrogen

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Avner Rothschild and his research team at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology have created a type of solar cell that generates both electricity and hydrogen. Using the power of the sun and ultra-thin films of iron oxide (commonly known as rust), the researchers have found a novel way to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The breakthrough could lead to less expensive, more efficient ways to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen-based fuels. "We have found a way to trap light in ultra-thin films of iron oxide that are 5,000 times thinner than typical office paper. This is the enabling key to achieving high efficiency and low cost," says Rothschild.