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Fully Integrated Nanosystem for Artificial Photosynthesis

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed an artificial photosynthesis system that can achieve a solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency of 0.12%, which is comparable to that of natural photosynthesis, under simulated sunlight.


Unlike previous technologies, the Berkeley Lab invention does not use macroscopic bulk thin-film devices or non-integrated nanoparticle dispersions for water splitting in solar-to-fuel conversions. With its fully integrated system of nanoscale photoelectrodes assembled from inorganic nanowires for direct solar water splitting, the technology is instead modeled after the photosynthesis system of a chloroplast. All components in this integrated nanosystem are individually positioned to maximize the energy conversion efficiency.

The renewable energy industry has been interested in the mass commercialization of artificial photosynthesis — the biomimetic approach to converting sunlight’s energy directly into chemical fuels — but the low conversion efficiency and high material costs of conventional approaches have not made this possible. The Berkeley Lab invention is the first demonstration of a functional, fully integrated nanosystem for a solar-driven water-splitting device. In addition to being highly efficient, the invention’s modular design will allow industry to replace specific components without the cost of a whole-system upgrade to achieve competitive performance. 

  • Efficient and cost-effective solar-to-fuel conversion
  • Modular design allows affordable upgrades and mass manufacturing
Applications and Industries
  • Converting solar energy to chemical fuels for the renewable energy industry
Technology Status
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To: Shanshan Li<>