An original state, both solid and liquid at the same time: this is the latest news on a substance -water- so familiar to everyone but which appears to hold always fresh surprises for scientists. Its name is “superionic water”; it doesn’t exist on Earth but it could be abundant inside certain planets of the solar system such as Uranus and Neptune and on many of the exoplanets of more recent discovery.
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“In a way, this mechanism is not too dissimilar to electron-hole recombination in semiconductor photodetectors,” exaplained Lozada-Hidalgo. While the mechanism may not be too different than semiconductor photodetectors, these devices are based on proton transport as opposed with all current photodetectors today, which are based on electron transport.
“One general philosophy for making something that can maintain high stress is to make it so strong that it’s unbreakable,” said Huang, professor of materials science and engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering.
When they illuminated the membrane with sunlight, they found the proton conductivity increased by 10 times, according to Dr Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, who led the research alongside Prof Sir Andre Geim.
A solar-driven photoelectrochemical cell provides a promising approach to enable the large-scale conversion and storage of solar energy, but requires the use of Earth-abundant materials.