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For the first time, researchers have succeeded in creating an iron molecule that can function both as a photocatalyst to produce fuel and in solar cells to produce electricity. The results indicate that the iron molecule could replace the more expensive and rarer metals used today.

Some photocatalysts and solar cells are based on a technology that involves molecules containing metals, known as metal complexes. The task of the metal complexes in this context is to absorb solar rays and utilise their energy. The metals in these molecules pose a major problem, however, as they are rare and expensive metals, such as the noble metals ruthenium, osmium and iridium.

"Our results now show that by using advanced molecule design, it is possible to replace the rare metals with iron, which is common in the Earth's crust and therefore cheap," says Chemistry Professor Kenneth Wärnmark of Lund University in Sweden.

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Category: Science