Special Issue "Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy"

A special issue of Nanomaterials (ISSN 2079-4991).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 April 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ming-Tsang Lee

Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan
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Phone: +886-4-22840433 ext. 419
Interests: heat transfer; nanocatalysis; energy conversion; advanced manufacturing
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Coleman X. Kronawitter

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA, USA
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Interests: energy conversion; electrocatalysis; materials design, surface science
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Seung Hwan Ko

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea
Website | E-Mail
Interests: nanomaterials; flexible electronics; stretchable electronics; laser processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The utilization of nanomaterials in technologies for renewable energy and sustainability applications continues to represent an important area of academic and commercial research. There are numerous mechanisms by which the integration of nanomaterials can improve device performance. These include, for example, facilitation of increased harvesting and conversion efficiencies, simplified and rapid manufacturing processes for novel device architectures, and improved energy storage properties. We invite authors to contribute original research articles or comprehensive review articles covering the most recent progress and new developments in the design and utilization of nanomaterials for highly efficient, novel devices relevant to applications in renewable energy and sustainability. This special issue aims to cover a broad range of subjects, from nanomaterials synthesis to the design and characterization of energy devices and technologies with nanomaterial integration. The format of welcomed articles includes full papers, communications, and reviews. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  1. Nanomaterials development, synthesis, and fabrication for renewable energy applications;
  2. Novel micro/nanofabrication technologies for efficient energy devices;
  3. Design and preparation of novel nanotextured/nanostructured surfaces for improved energy harvesting and conversion efficiencies;
  4. Low-dimensional nanomaterials or nanocomposites for renewable energies;
  5. Green techniques for energy-related nanomaterials processing;
  6. Nanomaterial-based technologies for sustainability and environmental issues;
  7. Other studies of nanoscience and nanotechnology associated with renewable energy and sustainability.

Prof. Dr. Ming-Tsang Lee
Prof. Dr. Coleman X. Kronawitter
Prof. Dr. Seung Hwan Ko
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Nanomaterials is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • energy conversion
  • transport phenomena
  • nanomaterials synthesis and characterizations
  • photochemistry
  • nano/microfabrications for energy devices
  • electrocatalysis
  • nanotechnology for sustainability

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Rationally Controlled Synthesis of CdSexTe1−x Alloy Nanocrystals and Their Application in Efficient Graded Bandgap Solar Cells
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(11), 380; doi:10.3390/nano7110380
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 1 November 2017 / Accepted: 5 November 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
PDF Full-text (4998 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
CdSexTe1−x semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs), being rod-shaped/irregular dot-shaped in morphology, have been fabricated via a simple hot-injection method. The NCs composition is well controlled through varying molar ratios of Se to Te precursors. Through changing the composition of the CdSex
[...] Read more.
CdSexTe1−x semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs), being rod-shaped/irregular dot-shaped in morphology, have been fabricated via a simple hot-injection method. The NCs composition is well controlled through varying molar ratios of Se to Te precursors. Through changing the composition of the CdSexTe1−x NCs, the spectral absorption of the NC thin film between 570–800 nm is proved to be tunable. It is shown that the bandgap of homogeneously alloyed CdSexTe1−x active thin film is nonlinearly correlated with the different compositions, which is perceived as optical bowing. The solar cell devices based on CdSexTe1−x NCs with the structure of ITO/ZnO/CdSe/CdSexTe1−x/MoOx/Au and the graded bandgap ITO/ZnO/CdSe(w/o)/CdSexTe1−x/CdTe/MoOx/Au are systematically evaluated. It was found that the performance of solar cells degrades almost linearly with the increase of alloy NC film thickness with respect to ITO/ZnO/CdSe/CdSe0.2Te0.8/MoOx/Au. From another perspective, in terms of the graded bandgap structure of ITO/ZnO/CdSe/CdSexTe1−x/CdTe/MoOx/Au, the performance is improved in contrast with its single-junction analogues. The graded bandgap structure is proved to be efficient when absorbing spectrum and the solar cells fabricated under the structure of ITO/ZnO/CdSe0.8Te0.2/CdSe0.2Te0.8/CdTe/MoOx/Au indicate power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.37%, a value among the highest for solution-processed inversely-structured CdSexTe1−x NC solar cells. As the NC solar cells are solution-processed under environmental conditions, they are promising for fabricating solar cells at low cost, roll by roll and in large area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessArticle Enhancing Photovoltaic Performance Using Broadband Luminescent Down-Shifting by Combining Multiple Species of Eu-Doped Silicate Phosphors
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(10), 340; doi:10.3390/nano7100340
Received: 23 September 2017 / Revised: 16 October 2017 / Accepted: 18 October 2017 / Published: 21 October 2017
PDF Full-text (3392 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper demonstrates the application of a broadband luminescent downshifting (LDS) layer with multiple species of europium (Eu)-doped silicate phosphors using spin-on film technique to enhance the photovoltaic efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells. The surface morphology of the deposited layer was examined
[...] Read more.
This paper demonstrates the application of a broadband luminescent downshifting (LDS) layer with multiple species of europium (Eu)-doped silicate phosphors using spin-on film technique to enhance the photovoltaic efficiency of crystalline silicon solar cells. The surface morphology of the deposited layer was examined using a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The chemical composition of the Eu-doped silicate phosphors was analyzed using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The fluorescence emission of the Eu-doped silicate phosphors was characterized using photoluminescence (PL) measurements at room temperature. We also compared the optical reflectance and external quantum efficiency (EQE) response of cells with combinations of various Eu-doped phosphors species. The cell coated with two species of Eu-doped phosphors achieved a conversion efficiency enhancement (∆η) of 19.39%, far exceeding the ∆η = 15.08% of the cell with one species of Eu-doped phosphors and the ∆η = 8.51% of the reference cell with the same silicate layer without Eu-doped phosphors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessArticle Upcycling Waste Lard Oil into Vertical Graphene Sheets by Inductively Coupled Plasma Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(10), 318; doi:10.3390/nano7100318
Received: 7 August 2017 / Revised: 2 September 2017 / Accepted: 7 September 2017 / Published: 12 October 2017
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Abstract
Vertical graphene (VG) sheets were single-step synthesized via inductively coupled plasma (ICP)-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) using waste lard oil as a sustainable and economical carbon source. Interweaved few-layer VG sheets, H2, and other hydrocarbon gases were obtained after the decomposition
[...] Read more.
Vertical graphene (VG) sheets were single-step synthesized via inductively coupled plasma (ICP)-enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) using waste lard oil as a sustainable and economical carbon source. Interweaved few-layer VG sheets, H2, and other hydrocarbon gases were obtained after the decomposition of waste lard oil. The influence of parameters such as temperature, gas proportion, ICP power was investigated to tune the nanostructures of obtained VG, which indicated that a proper temperature and H2 concentration was indispensable for the synthesis of VG sheets. Rich defects of VG were formed with a high I D / I G ratio (1.29), consistent with the dense edges structure observed in electron microscopy. Additionally, the morphologies, crystalline degree, and wettability of nanostructure carbon induced by PECVD and ICP separately were comparatively analyzed. The present work demonstrated the potential of our PECVD recipe to synthesize VG from abundant natural waste oil, which paved the way to upgrade the low-value hydrocarbons into advanced carbon material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessArticle Rapid Evaporation of Water on Graphene/Graphene-Oxide: A Molecular Dynamics Study
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(9), 265; doi:10.3390/nano7090265
Received: 6 August 2017 / Revised: 2 September 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published: 7 September 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2148 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To reveal the mechanism of energy storage in the water/graphene system and water/grapheme-oxide system, the processes of rapid evaporation of water molecules on the sheets of graphene and graphene-oxide are investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. The results show that both the water/graphene and
[...] Read more.
To reveal the mechanism of energy storage in the water/graphene system and water/grapheme-oxide system, the processes of rapid evaporation of water molecules on the sheets of graphene and graphene-oxide are investigated by molecular dynamics simulations. The results show that both the water/graphene and water/grapheme-oxide systems can store more energy than the pure water system during evaporation. The hydroxyl groups on the surface of graphene-oxide are able to reduce the attractive interactions between water molecules and the sheet of graphene-oxide. Also, the radial distribution function of the oxygen atom indicates that the hydroxyl groups affect the arrangement of water molecules at the water/graphene-oxide interface. Therefore, the capacity of thermal energy storage of the water/graphene-oxide system is lower than that of the water/graphene system, because of less desorption energy at the water/graphene-oxide interface. Also, the evaporation rate of water molecules on the graphene-oxide sheet is slower than that on the graphene sheet. The Leidenfrost phenomenon can be observed during the evaporation process in the water/grapheme-oxide system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessArticle Highly Efficient and Stable Organic Solar Cells via Interface Engineering with a Nanostructured ITR-GO/PFN Bilayer Cathode Interlayer
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(9), 233; doi:10.3390/nano7090233
Received: 22 July 2017 / Revised: 10 August 2017 / Accepted: 21 August 2017 / Published: 23 August 2017
PDF Full-text (5561 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An innovative bilayer cathode interlayer (CIL) with a nanostructure consisting of in situ thermal reduced graphene oxide (ITR-GO) and poly[(9,9-bis(3′-(N,N-dimethylamion)propyl)-2,7-fluorene)-alt-2,7-(9,9-dioctyl) fluorene] (PFN) has been fabricated for inverted organic solar cells (OSCs). An approach to prepare a CIL of high
[...] Read more.
An innovative bilayer cathode interlayer (CIL) with a nanostructure consisting of in situ thermal reduced graphene oxide (ITR-GO) and poly[(9,9-bis(3′-(N,N-dimethylamion)propyl)-2,7-fluorene)-alt-2,7-(9,9-dioctyl) fluorene] (PFN) has been fabricated for inverted organic solar cells (OSCs). An approach to prepare a CIL of high electronic quality by using ITR-GO as a template to modulate the morphology of the interface between the active layer and electrode and to further reduce the work function of the electrode has also been realized. This bilayer ITR-GO/PFN CIL is processed by a spray-coating method with facile in situ thermal reduction. Meanwhile, the CIL shows a good charge transport efficiency and less charge recombination, which leads to a significant enhancement of the power conversion efficiency from 6.47% to 8.34% for Poly({4,8-bis[(2-ethylhexyl)oxy]benzo[1,2-b:4,5-b′]dithiophene-2,6-diyl}{3-fluoro-2-[(2-ethylhexyl)carbonyl]thieno[3,4-b]thiophenediyl} (PTB7):[6,6]-phenyl-C71-butyric acid methyl ester (PC71BM)-based OSCs. In addition, the long-term stability of the OSC is improved by using the ITR-GO/PFN CIL when compared with the pristine device. These results indicate that the bilayer ITR-GO/PFN CIL is a promising way to realize high-efficiency and stable OSCs by using water-soluble conjugated polymer electrolytes such as PFN. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessCommunication Phonon Transport through Nanoscale Contact in Tip-Based Thermal Analysis of Nanomaterials
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(8), 200; doi:10.3390/nano7080200
Received: 18 June 2017 / Revised: 17 July 2017 / Accepted: 21 July 2017 / Published: 28 July 2017
PDF Full-text (575 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Nanomaterials have been actively employed in various applications for energy and sustainability, such as biosensing, gas sensing, solar thermal energy conversion, passive radiative cooling, etc. Understanding thermal transports inside such nanomaterials is crucial for optimizing their performance for different applications. In order to
[...] Read more.
Nanomaterials have been actively employed in various applications for energy and sustainability, such as biosensing, gas sensing, solar thermal energy conversion, passive radiative cooling, etc. Understanding thermal transports inside such nanomaterials is crucial for optimizing their performance for different applications. In order to probe the thermal transport inside nanomaterials or nanostructures, tip-based nanoscale thermometry has often been employed. It has been well known that phonon transport in nanometer scale is fundamentally different from that occurred in macroscale. Therefore, Fourier’s law that relies on the diffusion approximation is not ideally suitable for describing the phonon transport occurred in nanostructures and/or through nanoscale contact. In the present study, the gray Boltzmann transport equation (BTE) is numerically solved using finite volume method. Based on the gray BTE, phonon transport through the constriction formed by a probe itself as well as the nanoscale contact between the probe tip and the specimen is investigated. The interaction of a probe and a specimen (i.e., treated as a substrate) is explored qualitatively by analyzing the temperature variation in the tip-substrate configuration. Besides, each contribution of a probe tip, tip-substrate interface, and a substrate to the thermal resistance are analyzed for wide ranges of the constriction ratio of the probe. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Open AccessArticle Multi-Shaped Ag Nanoparticles in the Plasmonic Layer of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells for Increased Power Conversion Efficiency
Nanomaterials 2017, 7(6), 136; doi:10.3390/nano7060136
Received: 17 April 2017 / Revised: 30 May 2017 / Accepted: 2 June 2017 / Published: 4 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4173 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The use of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) is widespread owing to their high power conversion efficiency (PCE) and low cost of manufacturing. We prepared multi-shaped Ag nanoparticles (NPs) and introduced them into DSSCs to further enhance their PCE. The maximum absorption wavelength of
[...] Read more.
The use of dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) is widespread owing to their high power conversion efficiency (PCE) and low cost of manufacturing. We prepared multi-shaped Ag nanoparticles (NPs) and introduced them into DSSCs to further enhance their PCE. The maximum absorption wavelength of the multi-shaped Ag NPs is 420 nm, including the shoulder with a full width at half maximum (FWHM) of 121 nm. This is a broad absorption wavelength compared to spherical Ag NPs, which have a maximum absorption wavelength of 400 nm without the shoulder of 61 nm FWHM. Therefore, when multi-shaped Ag NPs with a broader plasmon-enhanced absorption were coated on a mesoporous TiO2 layer on a layer-by-layer structure in DSSCs, the PCE increased from 8.44% to 10.22%, equivalent to an improvement of 21.09% compared to DSSCs without a plasmonic layer. To confirm the plasmon-enhanced effect on the composite film structure in DSSCs, the PCE of DSSCs based on the composite film structure with multi-shaped Ag NPs increased from 8.58% to 10.34%, equivalent to an improvement of 20.51% compared to DSSCs without a plasmonic layer. This concept can be applied to perovskite solar cells, hybrid solar cells, and other solar cells devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Renewable and Sustainable Energy)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Paper type: Article
Title: Plasmon Enhanced Hierarchical ZnO-Au Nanostructure for Water Splitting Photoelectrochemical Cell
Authors: Jinhyeong Kwon1, Hyunmin Cho1, Jinwook Jung1, Habeom Lee1, Sukjoon Hong2, Junyeob Yeo3, Seung Hwan Ko1*
Affiliation: 1 Applied Nano and Thermal Science Lab, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea
2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, Hanyang University, 55 Hanyangdaehak-ro, Sangnok-gu, Ansan Gyeonggi-do 15588, Korea
3 Novel Applied Nano Optics (NANO) Lab, Department of Physics, Kyungpook National University, 80 Daehak-ro, Bukgu, Daegu 41566, Korea
Abstract: Recently, increasing demands for the clean and sustainable energy source promotes development of solar-based energy generation way. As one of the alternative solar energy source, solar water splitting is promising since it has simple physical principle and various candidate materials: metal oxides. In this study, ZnO is selected as main material due to its electrical property. ZnO is n-type semiconductor material which has large (=3.3 eV) and direct band gap. Moreover, it can be easily synthesized through hydrothermal growth. Nevertheless, there is one critical issue on ZnO. Owing to its improper band gap position, it can only absorb UV light that exists only 3% of sunlight on the ground.
Therefore, several efforts are tried to reduce the limitation and to extend absorbing wavelength region. For example, deposition of noble metals such as Pt, IrO2, Au and Ag on the surface of the water splitting material by RF sputtering, LPCVD, ALD and other vacuum technique are presented for the catalyst or trigger of plasmon effect that eventually result in increased efficiency. However, those vacuum based methods are required prolonged working time, cost and high temperature.
In order to meet facile synthesis way, photoreduction process is introduced to produce hierarchical nanostructure for enhancing plasmon effect. In brief, gold nanoparticles are synthesized by UV irradiation for only several minutes on the ZnO nanowire arrays. Consequently, ZnO/Au hierarchical structure is produced and examined through 3-electrode method. Moreover, plasmon enhanced effect is observed by various analytic tools.

Paper title: Investigation of Phonon Transport through Nanoscale Contact in Tip-based Thermal Analysis of Nanomaterials
Authors: Jay Dulhani and Bong Jae Lee*
Affiliation: Department of Mechanical Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon 34141, South Korea
*Correspondence: ; Tel.: +82-42-350-3239
Abstract: Recently, nanomaterials have been actively employed in various technologies for energy and sustainability, such as bio-sensing, gas sensing, solar thermal energy conversion, passive radiative cooling, etc. Understanding thermal transports inside such nanomaterials is crucial for optimizing their performance for a certain application. In order to probe the thermal transport inside nanomaterials or nanostructures, tip-based nanoscale thermometry has often been employed. It has been well known that phonon transport in nanometer scale is fundamentally different from that occurred in macroscale. Therefore, the Fourier’s law that relies on the diffusion approximation is not ideally suitable for describing the phonon transport occurred in nanostructures and/or through nanoscale contact. In the present study, the gray Boltzmann transport equation (BTE) is numerically solved using finite volume method. Based on the gray BTE, phonon transport through the constriction formed by a probe itself as well as the nanoscale contact between the probe tip and the specimen is investigated. The interaction of tip and specimen (i.e., simplified as a substrate) is explored qualitatively by analyzing the temperature variation inside the system. It is observed that thermal spreading inside the substrate increases with increase in degree of constriction of the probe. The magnitudes of total, substrate, tip-interface resistance are established for range of constriction ratio of the probe. The combined thermal resistance of tip and interface (as predicted by BTE) is found to be much higher than the total resistance predicted by the Fourier’s law.
Keywords: Nanoscale Constriction and Contact; Boltzmann Transport Equation; Phonon Transport in Nanomaterials

Paper title: Highly Efficient and Stable Organic Solar Cells via Interface Engineering with a Nanostructure Bilayer In-Situ Reduced Graphene Oxide/PFN Cathode Interlayer
Author: Ding Zheng, Pu Fan, Ran Ji, and Junsheng Yu*
Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Electronic Thin Films and Integrated Devices, School of Optoelectronic Information, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC), Chengdu 610054, P. R. China
Abstract: An innovative nanostructure bilayer cathode interlayer (CIL) consisting of the in-situ thermal reduced graphene oxide (IT-RGO) and poly[(9,9-bis(3’-(N,N-dimethylamion)propyl)-2,7-fluorene)-alt-2,7-(9,9-dioctyl)-fluorene] (PFN) is realized in the inverted organic solar cells (OSCs). We introduce an approach to prepare the CIL with high electronic quality by using IT-RGO as a template to modulate the morphology of PFN and optimize the energy-level alignment of OSCs, while the IT-RGO template is fabricated by spray coating method with facile in-situ thermal reduction. This bilayer IT-RGO/PFN CIL shows well charge transport efficiency and less charge recombination which leads to a significant enhancement of power conversion efficiency from 6.44 % to 8.34% for PTB7:PC71BM-based OSCs. In addition, the long-term stability is improved by IT-RGO/PFN CIL when compared to the pristine device. These results indicated that the bilayer IT-RGO/PFN CIL is a promising way to avoid the defects of water-soluble conjugated polymer electrolytes such as PFN for highly efficient and stable OSCs.
Keywords: organic solar cell, reduced graphene oxide, PFN, bilayer cathode interlayer, in-situ thermal reduction

Paper title: Nanomaterial Catalysts in Artificial Photosynthesis
Authors: Shunichi Fukuzumi,*ab Yong-Min Lee,a and Wonwoo Nam*a
Affiliation: a Department of Chemistry and Nano Science, Ewha Womans University, Seoul 03760, Korea
b Faculty of Science and Engineering, Meijo University, Nagoya, Aichi 468-8502, Japan
Correspondance: E-mail: ,
Abstract: Nanomaterial catalysts play very important roles in each step in artificial photosynthesis. This review focuses on the roles of nanomaterial catalysts in light-harvesting, charge-separation, water oxidation and reduction as well as CO2 reduction. Alkanethiolate-monolayer-protected metal nanoclusters (MPCs) were modified with light-harvesting and charge-separation molecules to facilitate photoinduced energy transfer and electron transfer. Incorporation of charge-separation molecules into nanosized mesoporous silica-alumina resulted in remarkable elongation of the lifetime of the charge-separated state to enhance the photocatalytic activity and stability. Thermal and photochemical water reduction for hydrogen evolution and water oxidation for oxygen evolution using molecular catalysts and nanomaterial catalysts have been discussed including the conversion from molecular catalysts to more reactive nanomaterial catalysts in the course of water reduction and oxidation. Incorporation of a cobalt(II) chlorin complex into multi-walled carbon nanotubes has made it possible to reduce CO2 selectively to CO using triethylamine as an electron donor and a Ru complex as a photocatalyst in an aqueous solution in competition with hydrogen evolution from water.

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