Disclaimer: This is not a scientifically substantiated article for educative purposes, and was not written by a scientist. For more information on this topic, and other herein mentioned topics I highly suggest you consult your approved textbooks, real teachers, and peer-reviewed published scientific articles. That all said, read on, and enjoy the rantings of a crazy lunatic.
Oh boy, help me, I've gone insane. I'm sure many of you can relate to the idea of having multiple, but otherwise disconnected, ideas converge in your minds and become one massive lump of insanity? It can't just be me, right? I really wish I were smart enough to understand the topics I carry on about. On the other hand, even the craziest of notions can sometimes serve a purpose. Unfortunately, my crazy notions are usually full of misconstrued, misunderstood, ill-conceived, and misguided knowledge. However, abomination or not, here's something that popped in my head today. I was thrilled, to the point of being on the edge of my seat, as I read about a recent discovery, by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, concerning the restructuring of the surface layer of Titanium Dioxide (TiO2). Apparently, Dr. Mao, and his team of obvious geniuses, introduced a little disorder to the atomic nature of TiO2, thereby creating small gaps that furthered a massive increase in both efficiency and durability of its use as a photocatalyst. The altered structure of the TiO2 became black in color, as it now permitted infrared absorption. Naturally, if you're converting a wider wavelength you're increasing efficiency! I had to first go thank the Professor for his work, and then I headed over to Wikipedia to see what they had to say about it. Nothing was there, under the photocatalyst heading, so I went ahead and modified the article. I'm waiting now for some brilliant scientist to look at what I wrote and erase my existence from the planet. Regardless, I felt it important enough to add to that public knowledge base. (Dang-it! I just had to go back and make a correction to a spelling error I made on Wikipedia. See, this is why idiots should never be allowed to contribute to technical topics to which they have no competence!) After that, I started reading about developments in bioengineering related to synthetic photosynthesis. There's a great new discovery whereby researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that light harvesting complex II (LHC-II) proteins can self-assemble with polymers into a synthetic membrane structure and produce hydrogen. In laymen terms, they basically created a protein membrane that conducts photosynthesis and produces hydrogen. The most important aspect of this discovery is that the proteins self-assemble. They basically repair themselves, thus increasing efficiency and durability. Wow. I'm sure you can see where I'm headed with this. I'm wondering if these two teams are actually talking to each other. I'm envisioning a collaborative engineering effort that unifies these systems into one incredibly efficient means of turning sunlight into a viable energy source. They had mentioned the use of platinum (Pt) for their "imaginary" future catalyst for the production of hydrogen. Why not use the new disordered black TiO2?? This is where my lack of knowledge of the subject just breaks down into jumbled ramblings. Apparently, Pt coated TiO2 has been used to test hydrogen synthesis. So, my question becomes, even if Pt is a requirement for the TiO2, shouldn't we still consider using the latest greatest black TiO2? I can't find any studies indicating Pt is an efficient photocatalyst on its own, so - why are we using it? Where's a real scientist when you need one? Well, there's my uneducated rant for the day. Cheap, Clean Ways to Produce Hydrogen for Use in Fuel Cells? A Dash of Disorder Yields a Very Efficient Photocatalyst http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128165212.htm Sunlight-to-Hydrogen System Works, Neutron Analysis Confirms http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110203152544.htm My addition to Wikipedia (Citation 22) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanium_dioxide#Photocatalyst Further efficiency and durability has been obtained by introducing disorder to the lattice structure of the surface layer of titanium dioxide nanocrystals, permitting infrared absorption.[http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110128165212.htm A Dash of Disorder Yields a Very Efficient Photocatalyst]*.