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An inexpensive method for generating clean fuel is the modern-day equivalent of the philosopher's stone. One compelling idea is to use solar energy to split water into its constituent hydrogen and oxygen and then harvest the hydrogen for use as fuel. But splitting water efficiently turns out to be not so easy.

Now two scientists at the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) and the University of Wisconsin have made an important contribution to the effort, improving the efficiency of the key processes and offering new conceptual tools that can be applied more broadly in the quest to split water with sunlight. Their results appeared online Oct. 26 in Nature Communications.

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