Talk - Artifical Photosynthesis and the Photogeneration of Hydrogen: A Promise and Challenge for a Carbon-free Energy Future

Talk by Richard Eisenberg

Professor (Research), Tracy Harris Professor Emeritus
Associate Editor, PNAS, Department of Chemistry
University of Rochester



Artifical Photosynthesis and the Photogeneration of Hydrogen: A Promise and Challenge for a Carbon-free Energy Future

Richard Eisenberg

Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New York, 14627-0216

This century's greatest technological challenge is the conversion of sunlight into usable energy in a sustainable, environmentally benign way on a global scale. For light-to-chemical energy conversion in a designed artificial photosynthetic system, the splitting of water into its constituent elements is the most desirable energy-storing reaction.  As with natural photosynthesis, such a system relies on light absorption, charge separation, and catalysis.  Following an analysis of the problem, efforts are described that focus on different components of a system for the reductive side of the water splitting reaction. Light absorbers in recent systems in the Eisenberg laboratory include strongly absorbing organic dyes and water-solubilized semiconductor nanoparticles, while catalyst research focusses on metal complexes in solution. Both the light absorbers and the hydrogen-forming catalysts are composed only of earth abundant elements. Among these catalysts are metal complexes having redox-active ligands that serve as sites of reduction and protonation. Among the light absorbers are CdSe quantum dots that have capping agents containing polar, water-solubilizing groups and thiolates for binding to the quantum dots. Studies are described to provide clues to initial charge transfer steps, mechanisms of H2 generation and sources of system instability.


Publications relevant to the work described in this lecture

1.   A Semiconductor Quantum Dot-Sensitized Rainbow Photocathode for Effective Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Generation, Lv, H.; Wang, C.; Li, G.; Burke, R.; Krauss, T.; Gao, Y.; Eisenberg, R. PNAS, 2017, 114, 11297-11302.

2.   Photoelectrochemical Generation of Hydrogen from Water Using a CdSe Quantum Dot-Sensitized Photocathode, Ruberu, T. P. A.; Dong, Y.; Das, A.;  Eisenberg, R.  ACS Catal., 2015, 5,  2255–2259.

3.   Light-Driven Aqueous Proton Reduction to Hydrogen Using Rhodamine-Platinum Diimine Dithiolate Dyad Sensitizers, Li, G.; Mark, M.; Lv, H.; McCamant, D. W.; Eisenberg, R.  JACS, 2018, 140, 2575.  DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b11581.

4. Fuel from Water: The Photochemical Generation of Hydrogen from Water, Han, Z.; Eisenberg, R. Accounts Chem. Res., 2014, DOI: 10.1021/ar5001605.

5. Photogeneration of Hydrogen from Water Using CdSe Nanocrystals: The Importance of Surface Exchange, Das, A.; Han, Z.; Haghighi, M. G.; Eisenberg, R., Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 2013, 110, 16716-16723.

6. Robust Photogeneration of H2 in Water Using Semiconductor Nanocrystals and a Nickel Catalyst, Han, Z.; Qiu, F.; Eisenberg, R.; Holland, P. L.; Krauss, T. D. Science 2012, 1321-1324.



tor 14 jun 18


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