Congratulations Heather!

Heather Flint presented a poster at the Global Challenges Summit hosted by Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham universities to discuss international projects for development. The talks spanned from pecha kucha sessions delivered by PGRs, to panels discussing the work of NGOs and funding bodies. Her poster described the work of the team in which we incorporated natural dyes from indigenous Peruvian plants within Dye-Sensitized solar cells. Heather won the poster competition and was presented her certificate by the mayors of both Newcastle and Johannesburg. It was a pretty great day!

We are hiring!

We have a post-doc position available for an expert in physical chemistry, chemical engineering or similar, to join our team on the search for new solar cell cathode materials.

RSC Photochemistry Group Meeting 2017 in Birmingham

Nils, Fiona and Nathan attended the RSC Photochemistry Group meeting, which was held from 14th-15th September 2017 at the University of Birmingham’s Chemistry Department, attracting around 70 participants from across the UK and Ireland. The poster prize was awarded to Fiona for her very engaging poster “Probing Charge-Transfer Dynamics Using Time-Resolved Spectroscopy.” Congratulations  Fiona!


Nils wins a Solar Fuels Network poster prize


Emerging Areas of Photochemistry: From Fundamentals to Applications

Over 130 researchers from across UK and overseas gathered at the Department of Chemistry of the University of York on 16th and 17th March 2017 for the photochemistry symposium entitled Emerging Areas of Photochemistry: From Fundamentals to Applications. Attracting over 75 delegates from outside York, the conference brought together members of the national and international photochemistry and photophysics community to highlight and discuss the most recent innovations.

Read about our successful collaboration between Newcastle and Huddersfield chemists

Pictured with Dr Elizabeth Gibson are Huddersfield chemists Dr Paul Elliott (left) and Dr Jason Camp (right).
Pictured with Dr Elizabeth Gibson are Huddersfield chemists Dr Paul Elliott (left) and Dr Jason Camp (right).


1. Charge-transfer dynamics at the dye-semiconductor interface of photocathodes for solar energy applications F. A. Black, C. J. Wood, Simbarashe Ngwerume, G. H. Summers, I. P. Clark, M. Towrie, Jason E. Camp, E. A. Gibson Faraday Discussions, 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C6FD00228E

2. New cyclometalated iridium(III) dye chromophore complexes for p-type dye-sensitised solar cell.Alessandro Sinopoli, Christopher J. Wood, Elizabeth A. Gibson, and Paul I. P. Elliott. Dyes and Pigments, 2017 DOI: 10.1016/j.dyepig.2017.01.011

3. Investigation of a new bis(carboxylate)triazole-based anchoring ligand for dye-sensitised solar cell chromophore complexes Sinopoli, A.; Wood, C. J.; Gibson, E. A.; Elliott, P. I. P. Dalton Trans. 2017 DOI: 10.1039/C6DT02905A

4. New cyclometalated iridium(III) dye chromophore complexes for n-type dye-sensitised solar cells Sinopoli, A.; Wood, C. J.; Gibson, E. A.; Elliott, P. I. P. Inorganica Chimica Acta. 2017, 457, 81–89.

5. A resonance Raman study of new pyrrole-anchoring dyes for NiO-sensitized solar cells. Gareth H. Summers, Grace Lowe, Jean-François Lefebvre, Simbarashe Ngwerume, Maximilian Bräutigam, Benjamin Dietzek, Jason E. Camp, Elizabeth A. Gibson DOI: ChemPhysChem, 2017, 10.1002/cphc.201600846

6. Hybrid Cyclometalated Iridium Coumarin Complex as a Sensitiser of Both n- and p-Type DSSCs Sinopoli, A.; Wood, C. J.; Gibson, E. A.; Elliott, P. I. P. Eur. J. Inorg. Chem. 2016, 2016, 2887–2890. DOI: 10.1002/ejic.201600242

Gareth’s report on the Faraday Discussion Meeting on Artificial Photosynthesis, Kyoto

The Artificial Photosynthesis: Faraday Discussion was held in the beautiful city of Kyoto between the 28th February and 2nd March 2017 and was the first Faraday Discussion ever held in Japan. This three-day event brought together delegates from a diverse range of institutions across Asia, Europe and America to discuss the latest advancements in systems for solar-driven water splitting and CO2 reduction. Dr Libby Gibson presented an invited paper and Gareth Summers and Fiona Black presented posters. We thank the RSC and the UK Solar Fuels Network for supporting the trip!


A broad range of topics were covered during the discussion. Over the first two days sessions were split into biological approaches to artificial photosynthesis (including fundamental processes and theoretical approaches), molecular catalysts for artificial photosynthesis and inorganic assembly catalysts. On the final day the conference concluded with a session discussing the integration of systems for demonstrating realistic devices.

During the session of biological approaches to artificial photosynthesis a large portion of the discussion was devoted to the structural properties of photosystem II and possible mechanisms of water oxidation by the OEC. Two very interesting papers were presented by Prof. Jian-Ren Shen on computational calculations of the CaMn4O5 cluster of PSII and by Prof. Nobuo Kamiya discussing a 2.2 Å X-ray crystal structure analysis of PSII from a PsbM-deleted mutant. A major point of discussion that arose during this session concerned the relative merits of biomimicry vs. bioinspired chemistry and which approach would be more viable as the relevance of PSII was questioned due to the low number of Mn-based artificial catalysts that have been successfully used.

Prof. Licheng Sun presented an investigation of the temperature dependence of electrocatalytic water oxidation using Co-Pi films where activity increased with increasing temperature. A triple device model consisting of a photothermal collector and a photovoltaic cell-coupled electrolyser was proposed to carry out electrolysis at elevated temperatures, thereby increasing conversion efficiencies. While some of the following discussion raised concerns over the roof area needed for such a model, the most important point highlighted during this session was the need for standardisation of ‘room temperature’ as a reported parameter. This discussion of standardisation and benchmarking was returned to throughout the conference as a crucial aspect for continued work in the field of artificial photosynthesis.

Discussion during the session dedicated to inorganic assembly catalysts for artificial photosynthesis mostly revolved around catalyst stability. Dr. Fabio Di Fonzo discussed his work on hybrid organic/inorganic photocathodes where the stability of a P3HT:PCBM photocathode can be significantly improved using a WO3 hole selective layer paired with a TiO2 electron selective layer. The prepared devices were stable over an impressive experimental duration of 10 hours, with only 30% loss of activity from the initial value.

However, as was noted during the discussion, lab-based stability tests typically range from minutes to hours while a realistic device would need to be stable for a minimum of 5 years to see any widespread integration. This vast difference is a major hurdle that needs to be overcome for devices to leave the lab and contribute to worldwide energy production.

The event concluded with a session discussing the integration of systems for demonstrating realistic devices. Tohru Setoyama from the Mitsubishi Chemical Group discussed the challenges of applying solar hydrogen in industry, with the aim of using solar hydrogen and CO2 to produce lower olefins (ethylene and propylene) to help curb CO2 emissions. It was particularly interesting to see artificial photosynthesis discussed from an industrial viewpoint rather than an academic one. Prof. Daniel Nocera instigated a thought-provoking discussion comparing artificial photosynthesis to a holy grail; the point was raised that artificial photosynthesis will never be able to produce a fuel source cheaper than fossil fuels, unless a widespread carbon tax is introduced. It was argued that efforts should be focused on working together with policy makers or working with the developing world that does not yet have a fossil fuel dependent infrastructure.

Alongside the discussion sessions there were also several tea breaks and poster sessions where the 50 poster presenters could discuss their work with other delegates, providing ample time for networking opportunities with researchers from institutions that would not often meet.

UK Solar Fuels Network meeting comes to Newcastle


Over one hundred researchers from across the UK and overseas gathered at Newcastle University on 26th and 27th January 2017 for the 5th UK Solar Fuels Symposium, chaired by Dr Pau Farras and Prof Andy Benniston.

Read more about the day here:

Devens Gust opened his invited talk by admitting that he was not going to talk about 40 years of solar fuels research undertaken in his labs. Instead, he revealed, he would talk about the substantial contributions that Tony Harriman had made to solar fuels research during his career. Devens’ entertaining and enlightening talk concluded with the presentation of an SFN Award to Tony. This prize was awarded in recognition of Tony’s contributions to solar fuels research, and also his very active contribution to the SFN as a member of the Advisory Board.
Prof Mercedes Maroto-Valer (Heriot Watt University; Chair of the RSC Energy Sector) presented Michael with his RSC Centenary Prize Award during the Symposium. This prize was awarded in recognition of his pioneering contributions in molecular photovoltaics and mesoscopic solar cells.

Fiona Black attends the Quantsol Summerschool

Fiona Black summer school cropped 

“The whole week was a great way to meet new people, establish connections and broaden my knowledge of solar cell technologies. 

“There were also plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding valley of Kleinwalsertal, as well as a full day set aside for a hike. Along with other members of the group, I climbed up to 2500m to the top of the mountain Großer Widderstein!” 

Read more in the School of Chemistry Newsletter


Opportunities to join the group

We are currently advertising for a research associate with a background in materials synthesis to help us develop new semiconductors for our photocathodes. Please email for informal enquiries.

Three PhD positions are available to start in January and September 2017.

We always welcome enquiries from students who can secure their own funding.