Solar Fuels Network Newsletter
Issue 1, November 2013


Steph Pendlebury, SFN Project Manager, Imperial College London     
Dear SFN members,
Welcome to the first Solar Fuels Network newsletter! Inside are reports from members about recent meetings and outreach events, as well as information about the 2nd UK Solar Fuels Symposium in January, and an article from the Solar Fuels Institute, based in the US.  If you have any items you would like to be published in the next newsletter, please email them to me (; this is a great opportunity for students to publish short articles about events that they have taken part in. Please do invite any colleagues, students or collaborators (from academia or industry) who work in solar fuels and closely related research areas to join the Network:

2nd UK Solar Fuels Symposium
14 January 2014
The Foresight Centre, University of Liverpool

To register, email
Remaining places are limited – sign up now to avoid disappointment!

The meeting is an opportunity to discuss the latest advances in the field of solar-driven fuels research and to interact with the rapidly expanding network of researchers in the UK.  Applications for poster presentations are still being considered; please email your proposed poster title to the above address. The Network meeting is free for UK based researchers, and student travel grants are available from the Solar Fuels Network ( The organisers, Dr Alex Cowan and Prof Anthony Harriman, look forward to welcoming you to Liverpool.

The provisional programme can be found at the Solar Fuels Network website.

ISACS12 Post-Graduate Symposium

Katharina Brinkert (Imperial College)

What happens when you mix a lecture hall full of highly motivated PhD students, post-docs and young researchers with a few great professors and place them for one day into an old, British college, where they discuss the future of solar energy conversion processes? Read more

AMPEA Meeting in Uppsala (Sweden)

Florian le Formal, Imperial College London

In order to accelerate the development of new energy technologies and maximise complementarities and synergies within Europe, leading European research institutes have founded the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA). More than 2700 researchers from over 150 public research centres and universities are actively collaborating today in the EERA Joint Programmes (JPs), on diverse subjects such as photovoltaics, wind energy and energy storage... Read more 

Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI)

Established in 2011 and currently based at Northwestern University, the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) is a global consortium of universities, government labs, and industry united around the goal of developing and commercializing a liquid solar fuel.

SOFI is providing funding for researchers (graduate students, postdoctoral associates, staff scientists and engineers, and PIs) to carry out collaborative projects in another institution’s lab(s).  These guest researchers are designated a “Solar Fuels Institute Fellows.”  Through exchanges of from 2 to 12 week duration, SOFI aims to break down the barriers in solar fuels research and build a multidisciplinary network, while addressing specific project needs of the labs. The SOFI Fellows Program will lower many of the barriers to carrying out collaborative projects across geographically distributed teams. The SFN and SOFI will work together to promote collaboration between solar fuels researchers from all over the globe. Funding for bilateral exchange (short-term lab visits) is also available to UK-based SFN members, see
Read more.

Conference Highlights from ISACS12

Christina Chang, University of Cambridge

World experts descended upon the historic University of Cambridge this past September to share their latest scientific breakthroughs in the chemistry of renewable energy... Read more

Funding and Solar Fuels Related Conferences & Winter/Summer Schools

Steph Pendlebury, SFN Project Manager, Imperial College London

Funding for various activities is available from the SFN for UK-based members:
  • Travel bursaries
  • Outreach & dissemination
  • Bilateral exchange bursaries 
If your funding application is successful, you are required to write a SFN website article about the event that you were sponsored for. All application forms are available from the SFN website:

at the Gordon Solar Fuels Conference
Friday 24 January 2014, Ventura (CA)

If you’d like to come, email

We are planning a small, informal workshop between the Solar Fuels Network, the Solar Fuels Institute (based in the US), and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Science & Innovation Network.  The aim is to discuss and formalise how the SFN and SOFI can work more closely together to promote international collaboration between solar fuels researchers.  Both the SFN and SOFI have funds to support bilateral collaborations that could be set up at this workshop.

Program Manager, Solar Fuels Institute      

The Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) invites applications for a Program Manager at the postdoctoral fellow level, beginning February 2014.  Successful candidates will have specialized in the solar fuels (artificial photosynthesis) field with demonstrated experience managing complex projects, collaborating across multiple labs, and communicating scientific discoveries to all audiences.
For more information, contact Dick Co:


Upcoming Solar Fuels Themed Conferences                                      

Please note that travel bursary applications are not restricted to the conferences/symposia listed here.
2nd UK Solar Fuels Symposium: University of Liverpool,14 January 2014

Gordon Research Seminar & Conference: Solar Fuels, Ventura, 19-24 January 2014 (The Seminar is an early-career researcher meeting)

Molecules & Materials for Artificial Photosynthesis: Cancun, 6-9 February 2014

JCAP Winter School: Thin Film Components for Artificial Photosynthesis, Pasadena, 10-14 February 2014

Perspect-H2O: Supramolecular Photocatalytic Water Splitting, Jena, 10-13 March 2014 (Early-career researcher meeting)

2014 Electrochemical Conference on Energy & the Environment: Shanghai, 13-16 March 2014

2nd International Conference on Clean Energy: Qingdao, 13-16 April 2014

2014 MRS Spring meeting: San Francisco, 21-25 April 2014

SolarFuel14: New Advances in Materials for Solar Fuels Production, Montreal, 24-26 June 2014

Royal Society: Do we need a global project on artificial photosynthesis, Kavli Centre, 8-10 July 2014

Solar Fuels Outreach Activities

Ernest Pastor, Yimeng Ma, Anna Reynal, Steph Pendlebury (Imperial College)

We have created solar fuels themed stands for two different outreach events this year.  The first was the Imperial Festival, which took place during the first weekend of May. Members of the Solar Fuels Network explained to researchers, students and members of the public how abundant materials such as iron oxide can be used to build artificial photosynthesis systems. Hands-on experiments and demonstrations allowed visitors to understand the process of photosynthesis and catalysis as well as to find out the type of high tech equipment used by researchers to study these ‘artificial pants’ at an atomic level. Young kids enjoyed the experiment of extracting chlorophyll from spinach to look at its photochemical properties. We explained the interaction between light and matter by irradiating the chlorophyll solution with a torch, demonstrating that the colour of the solution changed from green to red due to luminescence. Adults were equally engaged in the demonstration of water electrolysis using a battery or silicon solar cells. The younger scientists-to-be were most impressed by the intricate mini-lab that demonstrators had prepared with reactors and colourful chemicals flowing from one flask to another, discovering first-hand what a catalytic cycle is,  but only after putting on their gloves and safety goggles! Some of these demonstrations were also used for the “Science Uncovered” public engagement event at London’s Natural History Museum in September.

Demonstrating water splitting to members of the public

Laia and Enric (18 years old), working on the project "Artificial Photosynthesis" during a work experience placement at Imperial College London
Steph Pendlebury is organising a solar fuels/artificial photosynthesis outreach network as part of the SFN.  In collaboration with Oxford and York Universities, we have had an application for a stand at the Big Bang Festival (Birmingham, March 2014) accepted.  We want to create a network of PhD students, post-docs and academics all over the UK who do solar fuels related outreach, so that we can share ideas and resources, and put on joint activities at various events.  Overall, I hope that more of us will get to do outreach, and each of us has to spend less time preparing for it! If you would like to be involved, please send me an email (
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