Energy at Oxford Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Ultimately, the sun is the source from which almost all of the useful energy on Earth is derived.  The amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth is staggering:  one hour of solar energy absorbed by the earth is approximately equal to one year of human energy use.  Effectively tapping into even a small fraction of this vast resource could make a significant impact on the global energy picture.

Developing the materials and techniques for cost-competitive conversion of solar energy to electricity and chemical fuels is a grand challenge, but one with incredible potential to realize solar power's promise of entirely sustainable energy.  Oxford Chemistry is confronting these challenges head-on.

Our basic research aims to understand how solar radiation interacts with matter, so that new materials can be designed to efficiently and inexpensively produce electricity, motion, or fuels from light and heat.  New ways of using and synthesizing micro- and nano-structured materials open up structural properties as an additional way of tuning light-matter interactions.

New catalysts are being developed so that the sun can be used directly as the energy source to power a wide range of chemical reactions, particularly the generation of hydrogen from water and the transformation of atmospheric carbon dioxide into fuels and other useful chemicals.