Templeglantine electrochemist awarded €1.5m for pioneering solar energy research

Dr Micheál Scanlon, who is a European Research Council Starting Grant recipient. Picture: Alan Place.

University of Limerick electrochemist Dr Micheál Scanlon from Templeglan-tine has been announced as the recipient of a highly prestigious €1.5m Euro-pean Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. Dr Scanlon is the only ERC award recipient in Ireland in physical sciences, and one of only three Irish-based researchers to be awarded an ERC Starting Grant this year.
Based in the Bernal Insti-tute and the Department of Chemical Sciences at UL, Dr Scanlon is working on a pioneering experimental approach that seeks to imitate photosynthesis in the leaves of plants, with the goal of efficiently gen-erating clean electricity or solar fuels (such as hydrogen gas). By 2030 the solar PV market in Europe alone is projected to be worth €10 billion per year. Current solar PV devices are based mainly on the use of solid inorganic materials which can be expensive to process and occasionally toxic. Dr Scanlon’s pioneering new approach aims to do away with the use of solid materials and instead achieve solar energy conversion using a liquid to liquid interface, similar to the touching point between unmixable oil and water.