Russian Scientists Develop Crystals to Generate Alternative Fuel

Scientists from the N. M. Emanuel Institute of Biochemical Physics RAS, together with colleagues from Novosibirsk State University, the V. S. Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy SB RAS, and the Samara State Technical University, conducted a search for crystals with unique options for stacking the atoms of metals, sulfur, and selenium. During their research, they discovered eight new monolayers that can be used to accelerate the process of artificial photosynthesis, the decomposition of water under the influence of light into oxygen and hydrogen, which is an environmentally friendly alternative fuel. The results of the study, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF), were published in the Journal of Applied Crystallography

Crystals consisting of three rows of atoms of transition metals, sulfur, and selenium look like a “molecular sandwich”. The upper and lower rows consist of chalcogens, that is, elements in group 16 of the periodic table. Between them is a central row of metals such as molybdenum, vanadium, or tungsten. Monolayers, in which the upper and lower rows of chalcogen atoms consist of different elements, are called Janus structures. This is what the scientists studied using quantum chemical methods and algorithms for predicting structures. 

One of the article’s authors, Pavel Gavryushkin, PhD, explained the significance of this work, 

We discovered new, stable Janus structures. Most of them are unique and have no analogues in the existing databases. Our study of their structure and properties will identity their future practical applications. We are already evaluating the prospects for applying them to the reaction of water decomposition. 

Based on materials published by Technovery (RU).