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Multidisciplinary Collaborative Team-Based Research

  • Shared vision, mission, and goals with collective understanding of and commitment to the Center
  • Highly integrated multi-institutional, focused, project oriented
  • Flexibility to respond and reorganize as scientific goals change
  • Ability to innovate more rapidly than research groups with a single PI
  • Ability to extend the underlying science broadly and in new directions
  • Complementary skills and capabilities in areas required for success


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UNC EFRC - Center for Solar Fuels - Chemical Approaches to Artificial Photosynthesis


Team Structure and Research Focus

Multiple platforms are under investigation but the primary target is a Dye-Sensitized Photoelectrosynthesis Cell (DSPEC) for Solar Fuels production. This approach uses molecules and molecular assemblies for catalysis in photoelectrochemical configurations closely related to those used in Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC). In contrast to a DSSC where the target is creating a photopotential and photocurrent, the target of a DSPEC is production of a high energy fuel with oxygen as the co-product in the physically separated compartments of a photoelectrochemical cell.

The UNC EFRC uses a modular approach that focuses on maximizing component performance and integration into device prototypes.

Our integrated team-based approach in Solar Fuels is based on four research areas:

  • Catalysis
  • Assemblies
  • Interfaces
  • Device Prototypes

Five teams led by faculty members at our five partner institutions pursue research in these areas with theory integrated across the center:


Catalysis Team:
Development and mechanistic studies of solution and interfacial catalysts for water oxidation and CO2 reduction; integration of catalysts into assembly structures, and device prototypes.


Assemblies Team:
Development of molecular, oligomer and polymer chromophore-catalyst assemblies for use in water oxidation and CO2 or H2O reduction at n- and p-type semiconductor interfaces.


Interface Dynamics Team:
Dynamics of light-driven interfacial electron transfer in chromophores, assemblies, and chromophore-catalyst assemblies on metal oxide semiconductor surfaces.

Photocathode Team:
Design, synthesis and characterization of hole-transporting semiconductor nanomaterials, core/shell morphologies, and sensitizers to achieve high-performance photocathode systems integrated with molecular catalysts for CO2 reduction.

Photoanode Team:
Optimize sunlight driven water oxidation at dye-sensitized photoanodes.