The literal translation of ‘chimie douce’, is ‘soft chemistry’. It carries connotations of reducing the extreme conditions of temperature, heat, and pressure often associated with traditional synthetic approaches for making solid-state materials to more gentle eco-friendly ambient ones. A recent Nature Energy article reports a low temperature water-splitting protocol that uses microwave power in lieu of concentrated solar energy using similar reversible metal oxide redox chemistry to the solar thermal water splitting process. The ability to “turn-down-the-heat” on these metal oxide redox cycles has been proposed to stem from microwave-induced electromagnetic field polarization, electron and oxide ion conductivity and thermalization effects. The processes work synergistically to facilitate elimination of oxygen and formation of oxygen vacancies in the metal oxide at temperatures below 250°C. See full article at Advanced Science News.
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