Researchers from KAUST show that microbes and nanomaterials like graphene can be used together to form a biohybrid material that performs well as an electrocatalyst. The team says that such materials could be used in the solar-powered production of carbon-free fuels and several other green-energy applications.
A process called the oxygen-evolution reaction (OER) is at the heart of many clean energy technologies. In the case of solar-fuel production, for example, the OER enables the use of solar electricity to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, producing clean hydrogen that can be used as a fuel. Currently, rare and expensive metals are used as OER electrocatalysts. However, graphene-based biohybrid materials could make an inexpensive, eco-friendly alternative, as the team at KAUST has shown.