A new kind of solar panel, developed at the University of Michigan, has achieved 9% efficiency in converting water into hydrogen and oxygen — mimicking a crucial step in natural photosynthesis. Outdoors, it represents a major leap in the technology, nearly 10 times more efficient than solar water-splitting experiments of its kind.
But the biggest benefit is driving down the cost of sustainable hydrogen. This is enabled by shrinking the semiconductor, typically the most expensive part of the device. The team’s self-healing semiconductor withstands concentrated light equivalent to 160 suns.