Hydrogen (H2) is expected to play a major role in the future renewable-energy economy to store energy and as a fuel to enable the decarbonization of hard-to-electrify sectors. The project aims to explore new sustainable wasy for H2 production through use of Quantum Dots.


Project funding
New Frontiers in Research Fund - Exploration 2020

Implementation time
2021 – 2023

Project description

Solar photocatalysis (PC) and photoelectrocatalysis (PEC) are promising technologies for sustainable H2 generation with the greatest potential efficiency yet still face major challenges. we propose fundamental studies drawing on our established expertise in surface reactions, QD synthesis and device engineering, that may yield essential insights into the mechanisms of water splitting reactions that occur at QD surfaces. To maximize the benefits of a breakthrough, this work will be coupled with techno-economic and socio-political assessments, and analysis of the technology’s potential in the future green economy.

Project goals

Achieving a viable clean H2 production technology will require a breakthrough in efficiency, which calls for a new approach. Our studies bridging basic and applied materials science hold the potential for such a breakthrough. The project aims to obtain profound insights into the mechanisms of water splitting reactions by creating simplified model surfaces that make it possible to identify the active sites of the catalysts, the specific configurations of atoms that govern the overall catalyst performance. This will be done using surface science tools that enable the imaging of surfaces and reactions with atomic resolution under controlled conditions. We will then synthesize tailored QDs with a maximized number and reactivity of active sites to achieve high catalytic performance, using recently developed methods as a starting point.These QDs can be readily incorporated into high efficiency solar water splitting devices, whose demonstration would spark the development of this technology towards H2 production at levels spanning from individual households to industrial facilities.


  • University of Calgary, Canada
  • LUT University, Finland
  • Carleton University, Canada


Other staff

The LUT Team is responsible for techno-economic analysis and innovation/technologyvaluation perspectives the aim is to find the baseline we need to meet economically when adopting this technology. In a chronological perspective, we identify three steps. The first scenario, the beginning (1) is identifying cost points or ‘tipping points’, such as specific marginal cost limit after which economic feasibility33 for early adoption is attained, or performance relative to main competing technologies in initial niche markets that may be quantified and used as key acceptance criteria likely to trigger adoption. LUT is also responsible for employing TRIZ to identify optimal applications, supported by experimental sustainability-oriented business modelling36 to set long term targets, evaluate systemic effects, and formulate policy suggestions, on the basis of successful adoption and full integration into the hydrogen economy and a net zero energy system.