Graphene gives renewable fuel research a boost

Is there anything Graphene can't do? The wonder material has added another string to its bow, as researchers have found it can aid artificial photosynthesis, which could help with the creation of renewable fuels

The many astounding abilities of graphene are increasingly well known — and another one has just been unearthed.

The latest ability of graphene to be discovered involves artificial photosynthesis: according to research reported by on Tuesday, graphene could help with the production of renewable fuels.

Graphene may be able to aid artificial photosynthesis, research has found.

Graphene is a two-dimensional grid of carbon atoms arranged into a hexagonal grid; a layer of graphite just one atom thick could lead to a number of advances in electronics and computing.

Graphene, it seems, makes a particularly efficient photocatalyst. In this case the researchers found that it encourages the conversion of sunlight and carbon dioxide into formic acid without getting involved in the reaction itself.

Previous experiments with graphene had involved combinations of graphene and semiconductors. These had low electron transfer levels, and were not particularly efficient. Once coupled to an enzyme (porphyrin), graphene works very well indeed, and at just the right range to exploit the visible light that makes up 46 percent of the sunlight that falls on Earth.

The research is reported in JACS, the Journal of the American Chemical Society.