Scientific Program


Solar Fuels: Devices and Principles

The production of renewable energy sources is currently a key issue. The choice is to find a reliable source for the huge demand or continue with the combustion of fossil fuels, resulting in dangerous emissions of pollutants to the atmosphere. Significantly, increasing CO2 emissions can bring about climate change. Since the sun is the largest available energy source, the challenge is to find a reliable, inexpensive and robust manner to transform solar energy into some form of storable and cheap fuel. This includes materials, assemblies of them and devices that capture the solar light and, through appropriate mechanisms, can for example decompose water into oxygen and hydrogen or transform CO2 into a useful light hydrocarbon, i.e., materials and devices for artificial photosynthesis. The materials and devices to achieve such a goal are being developed all over the world and this tutorial aims to introduce all interested researchers to the subject. Among the relevant materials are photovoltaics, catalysts for the different involved chemical reactions, porous materials, zeolites, nanostructured and microstructured arrays and assemblies of such materials, thin film arrays, etc. The performance of devices in light capturing or catalysis are reviewed.

Tutorial Outline

The first part of the tutorial will cover all aspects of materials synthesis and integration to obtain functional devices. Challenges of materials integration will be pointed out, as well as measures of success and practical examples. Synthetic approaches to light absorbers and catalytic materials for photoelectrochemical water splitting and CO2 reduction will be described. Characterization of photocatalytic systems and interfaces will also be described. Specific examples of catalyst integration on silicon and on bismuth vanadate photoanodes will be reviewed.

The second part of the tutorial will focus on modeling and simulation of solar-fuel prototypes. Key electrochemical and photo-electrochemical processes in solar-driven water-splitting prototypes will be introduced and described by numerical models. The tutorial will also present some fundamental electrochemistry, including electro-kinetics, mass transport, etc., that could play a significant role in optimizing the conversion efficiency of a prototype. Application and utilization of the whole cell model that captures and couples all the key photo-electrochemical processes in a solar-fuel prototype will be discussed. A model photo-electrochemical system: solar-fuel device operating at near-neutral [EA1] pH will be discussed and investigated in detail.

A third part considers characterization by electron microscopy both in scanning and transmission modes. Special attention will be given to the special conditions that observation of nanostructures demands. For example, interaction between the sample and the electron beam can result in modification of the atomic arrangement of nanostructures. [EA2] Examples will be given concerning observation of catalyzing nanoparticles, polymers and organic materials. In all cases, control of the dose rate is an important parameter to preserve the genuine structure of nano-objects that in principle can be used to obtain a better understanding of different properties related to solar fuel production.

Instructor’s name


Number of Hrs

Francesca Toma

Principles of Materials and Functionality of Devices


Chengxiang(“CX") Xiang

Architecture of Devices


Hector A. Calderon

Characterization by TEM and STEM with atomic resolution.



Francesca Toma
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Phone: +01 510-495-2342

Chengxiang("CX") Xiang
California Institute of Technology
Phone: +01 626-395-2613

Hector A. Calderon
Phone: +52 55-5729-6000 ext. 55052

Time schedule

Starting time: 9:00 am
Coffee break: 10:30-10:45 am
Tutorials: 10:45-12:30
Coffee break: 12:30-12:45 am
Finish: 14:00