Leading solar fuels research since 1994

1st International Solar Fuels Conference 2015

Note: This conference has already taken place!!

Plenary speakers (scroll down for invited session speakers) 

Fraser Armstrong, is a Professor of Chemistry at Oxford University.  His group has developed dynamic electrochemical techniques to investigate catalytic electron transport by enzymes.  Current interests include the detailed mechanism of H 2 activation by [FeFe]- and NiFe]-hydrogenases and the application of enzymes to study light-driven catalytic processes at semiconducting materials.


Vincent Artero works in the Life Science Division of the CEA and University of Grenoble I, France. His current research interest are in the structural and functional modelisation of hydrogenases, the design of artificial organometallic proteins and the design of novel nanomaterials for hydroge photo- and electro production, hydrogen oxidation and carbon dioxide reduction.




Holger Dau is full professor at the Physics Dept. of the Free University in Berlin, where he investigates catalysis at biological and synthetic metal sites employing X-ray spectroscopy and a set of complementary methods. The overall objective is improved atomistic understanding of water oxidation in biology (photosynthesis) as well as in inorganic systems ranging from molecular catalysts to heterogeneous electrocatalysis.


Kazunari Domen is Professor at the School of Science and Engineering at the University of Tokyo, Japan. Prof. Domen has carried out pioneering work in the field of water splitting on heterogeneous photocatalysts. He developed a wide range of original and unique photocatalysts and demonstrated that such photocatalysis is a promising technique for conversion of solar energy to chemical energy. 


James Durrant is Professor of Photochemistry in the Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London and Sêr Cymru Solar Professor, University of Swansea. His research addresses the photochemistry of materials for solar energy conversion – targeting both solar cells and solar to fuel. His studies are based around transient optical and optoelectronic techniques to address materials function, to elucidate design principles which enable technological development.  


Harry B. Gray is the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and the Founding Director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. His research addresses a wide range of fundamental problems in inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics. As a pioneer of the important field of bioinorganic chemistry, he has made many key contributions, the most important of which is the development of fundamental understanding of electron transfer in biological systems at the atomic level.  

Michael Grätzel is Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, and directs the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces. He pioneered studies of mesoscopic materials and their use in energy conversion systems, in particular photovoltaic cells and photo-electrochemical devices for solar generation of chemical fuels as well as lithium ions batteries. He discovered a new type of solar cell based on sensitized nanocrystaline oxide junctions, which has engendered perovskite photovoltaics, one of the most exciting developments in solar energy conversion.


Thomas Happe is Professor of Photobiotechnology at the Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology at the Ruhr-University of Bochum, Germany. His group analyses redox proteins and light dependent enzymatic reactions in microalgae. Hs research is focused on structure-function relationships of native and semi-artificial hydrogenases, including characterisation of the active-site co-factor and the catalytic turnover process.  He also develops new hydrogenase-based catalysts for artificial light-dependent hydrogen production.

Klaas Hellingwerf holds the chair in General microbiology at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where he supervises the Molecular Microbial Physiology group of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences.  His research focuses on molecular regulation mechanisms, and in systems- and synthetic biology and in genetic engineering of prokaryotic chemotrophs and phototrophs.



Clifford D. Kubiak is a Distinguished Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry at University of California at San Diego, USA.  Kubiak’s research is in catalytic utilization of CO2, and ultrafast electron transfer within the ground states of inorganic mixed valence systems.





Wolfgang Lubitz is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. His work focuses on structure and function of energy-converting biological systems with emphasis on the enzymes wateroxidase and hydrogenase and related chemical models using spectroscopic, electrochemical and theoretical methods.



Stephen Mayfield is director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, and a Co-director of the Food and Fuel for the 21st Century organized research unit at UC San Diego, USA.  His research focuses on the molecular genetics of green algae, and the production  of high value proteins and biofuel molecules using algae as a production platform. 

Anastasios Melis is currently a full Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA. He pioneered the concept of “Photosynthetic Biofuels”, in a photobiological process where fuel and chemicals emanate immediately from the primary products of photosynthesis, with a single organism acting both as photocatalyst and processor, synthesizing and releasing ready to use commodity products. 


Thomas J. Meyer is currently Arey Professor of Chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill and Director of the UNC Energy Frontier Research Center. He was an early pioneer in the field of artificial photosynthesis and solar fuels. He has gained an international reputation in photochemistry, mechanisms, and chemical reactivity and catalysis. His current focus is on water oxidation, carbon dioxide reduction, chromophore-catalyst assemblies, and dye sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cells. 

Thomas A. Moore is Regents’ Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist at Arizona State University. He has been involved in artificial photosynthesis with team members Ana Moore and Devens Gust for a long time. He is focused on combining artificial, hybrid and reengineered photosynthesis to more efficiently provide biomass to meet human needs and to drive the global carbon cycle to within sustainable boundaries.


Alison Smith is Professor of Plant Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge, UK. Her research is focussed on the metabolism of plants, algae and bacteria. Current projects include developing strategies for metabolic engineering of plants and algae to enhance production of vitamins, and hydrocarbons that might be suitable as biofuels. She is engaged in promoting microalgae for biotechnological purposes, and advocacy of biological solutions to energy challenges.  


Aldo Steinfeld is Professor at the Dept. of Mechanical and Process Engineering of ETH Zurich, Swizerland, where he holds the Chair of Renewable Energy Carriers. His research focus comprises high-temperature heat/mass transfer phenomena and multi-phase reacting flows, with applications in solar power, fuels, and materials production, decarbonization and metallurgical processes, CO2 capture and recycling, and energy storage and sustainable energy systems.


Licheng Sun is Professor of Molecular Devices at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, and a Distinguished Professor in Dalian University of Technology (DUT). He is currently the director of DUT-KTH Joint Education and Research Center on Molecular Devices. His research interests cover artificial photosynthesis, molecular catalysts for water oxidation and hydrogen generation, functional devices for total water splitting, dye sensitized, quantum dot/rod sensitized solar cells and perovskite solar cells.

Roel van de Krol  is director of the Institute for Solar Fuels at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin, and professor at TU  Berlin. His research focuses on the development of materials and devices for the photoelectrochemical conversion of sunlight to chemical fuels. Understanding how surface and bulk defects in thin films and nanomaterials affect light absorption, charge transport, recombination and catalytic activity is at the heart of these efforts.


Michael R. Wasielewski is the Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University and Director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center. He is the Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), and the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI). His research focuses on artificial photosynthesis, molecular systems for solar fuels and electricity, molecular electronics, spintronics, and time-resolved optical and EPR spectroscopy.  


Annegret Wilde is Professor in Molecular Genetics at the Albert-Ludwig-University of Freiburg. Her current research interests include assembly of photosynthetic complexes, tetrapyrrole biosyntheses, and biotechnological applications of cyanobacteria. In the field of solar fuels her research focuses on combining photosynthesis with the synthesis of ethanol in a cyanobacterial cell.


Special feature: Open lecture

Daniel G. Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. His group pioneered studies of the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry, recently with primary focus on the generation of solar fuels. He created the field of proton-coupled electron transfer with the first ultrafast laser study of electron transfer through a hydrogen bonded interface. He has recently constructed an artificial leaf, which uses sunlight to directly produce the solar fuel of hydrogen from water.

Professor Nocera will give an open lecture which is open to the general public as well as to conference participants, in addition to his invited session talk. 


Invited session speakers (confirmed)  

Ryu Abe is Professor at the Department of Energy and Hydrocarbon Chemistry, University of Kyoto. His research interests include development of novel photocatalytic materials for water splitting, toward solar hydrogen production.   




Eva-Mari Aro is an academy professor working in the Department of Biochemistry, Turku University, Finland. Her research is focused on photosynthesis, particularly Photosystem II. The aim is to understand interacting bioenergetic networks and their role in photosynthetic performance and acclimation processes. Applied research focuses on solar energy harnessing for biofuel production, making use of the biodiversity of photosynthetic microorganisms.


Shota Atsumi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Davis since 2009. He received his Ph.D. from Kyoto University in 2002. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Arizona and the University of California, Los Angeles. He works in the field of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering for chemical production from carbon dioxide. He received the Hellman Fellowship in 2012 and the NSF CAREER award in 2014.

Detlef Bahnemann is the Head of the research unit Photocatalysis and Nanotechnology at the Institute of Technical Chemistry of the Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany, and the Director of the Research Institute on Nanocomposite Materials for Photonic Applications at Saint Petersburg State University in Russia. His research topics include photocatalysis, photoelectrochemistry, and photochemistry focussed on the synthesis and detailed investigation of the physical-chemical properties of semiconductor and metal nanoparticles.


Maria Barbosa, is Director of AlgaePARC and Program Manager "Algal and microbial Products" at Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Netherlands. Her scientific interests are microalgae cultivation, scale-up and biorefinery. She coordinates several large European and national research programs with many industrial partners covering the entire microalgae production chain.  


Curtis P. Berlinguette is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia, Canada.  He currently leads a research program fully dedicated to solar energy conversion, which includes the design of novel nanoscale materials for advanced solar cells, and developing economically viable ways of storing solar electricity as high density fuels.


Dick T. Co is Managing Directory of the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) and Research Associate Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University. He is an Executive Scholar at the Kellogg School of Management and is driven to propel global solar fuels technologies to the marketplace.  His research focuses on employing femtosecond stimulated Raman spectroscopy and ultrafast transient absorption to investigate the photoinduced charge transfer dynamics of photocatalysts and molecular constructs on the femtosecond to picosecond timescales.  


Danny Ducat is an Assistant Professor in the Plant Research Labs and the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department at Michigan State University. His group is developing molecular tools and synthetic biology approaches toward the engineering of model cyanobacterial species. Current interests include the construction of multi-species autotroph/heterotroph microbial consortia as well as examination of how metabolic sink demand is sensed and influences photosynthetic efficiency in photosynthetic microbes.   

Tom Faunce holds a joint appointment as professor in the Australian National University College of Medicine, Biology and the Environment, and College of law. He has published extensively and organized two major international conferences on the theme of a Global Artifiial Photosynthesis Project and the prospect pf globalizing this thechnology.


Etsuko Fujita is a Senior Chemist and leader of the Artificial Photosynthesis group in the Chemistry Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Her major research interest is solar fuels generation from water and carbon dioxide, via mechanistic and kinetic investigations of transition-metal complexes, organometallic compounds, and semiconductors.



Sharon Hammes-Schiffer is the Swanlund Chair and Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.  She is a theoretical chemist known for her theories of hydrogen tunneling and proton-coupled electron transfer. Her research focuses on fundamental physical principles underlying charge transfer reactions, with applications in molecular catalysts for hydrogen oxidation and production in energy conversion device.


Craig L. Hill is the Goodrich C. White Professor of Chemistry at Emory University.  His research group works on a range of problems including solar fuel production (catalysts, light absorbers, systems) and smart materials.  He has elucidated many of the fundamental properties of polyoxometalates and pioneered their use in catalytic oxidations, photoredox processes, medical applications and, currently catalysis of multi-electron processes (applications to artificial photosynthesis). 


Haruo Inoue, is a Professor of Applied Chemistry and the Executive Director of the Center for Artificial Photosynthesis at Tokyo Metropolitan University, Japan. His major research interests are photochemistry, energy coupling among chemical reactions, selective energy flow in solution, nano-layered compounds, metal complexes, and artificial photosynthesis.   


Osamu Ishitani is Professor of Chemistry at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan, since 2006. The main interests of Professor Ishitani are artificial photosynthesis, photocatalytic CO2 reduction, photochemical properties of transition metal complexes, and photo-functional metal complexes.  




Thomas F. Jaramillo is Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University, USA. The research efforts in the Jaramillo group includes development of materials for solar fuels; to chemically convert H2O and CO2 into fuels. His research group focuses on the chemistry of materials, both at their surface and within their bulk, in order to engineer nano-scaled materials for light-harvesting and/or catalytic chemical conversion.


Matthew W. Kanan is assistant professor at the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University, USA, where he pursues new strategies to address outstanding problems in homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. The Kanan group is developing catalysts and catalyst–surface interfaces that exploit electrostatic interactions to control selectivity. His research interests include developing ways to convert H2O, CO2 and N2 into fuels using renewable energy. Efforts in this area focus on new heterogeneous electrocatalysts.   


Olaf Kruse is Professor at the Department of Biology of Bielefeld University, Germany. His specialty is light signaling mechanisms in microalgae. His group has identified new  pathways for regulation of the light harvesting process, and improved the efficiency of biomass production and H2 evolution in C. reinhardtii using molecular engineering. Further projects include the use of microalgae for biogas and diesel production from microalgae.

Patrik Jones is Senior Lecturer in Industrial Biotechnology at Imperial College London.  His group studies and engineers prokaryotes as biocatalysts for industrial biotechnology, employing both computational and wet-lab techniques.





Cheryl A. Kerfeld is the Hannah Distinguished Professor of Structural Bioengineering in the DOE Plant Research Laboratory and the Dept of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University, USA.  Her research focuses on structure-based characterization and engineering of photoprotection and carbon concentrating mechanisms in cyanobacteria development of bacterial systems for metabolic engineering and biofuel production.

Xuefeng Lu is professor and the Deputy Director-General at the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) and the Director of Key Laboratory of Biofuels, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research is focused on microbial metabolic engineering and includes photosynthetic production of biofuels and biochemicals in genetically engineered cyanobacteria, and genetic engineering of Aspergillus terreus for itaconic acid production.


Per Siegbahn is professor in theoretical physics at Stockholm University, Sweden. He started developing methods for electronic structure calculations, then went on to do applications in catalysis. He has recently written a review in Chem. Rev. 2014 where he summarizes the research done in his group on mechanisms for redox active enzymes. The most prominent being water oxidation in photosystem II.


Kevin Sivula is assistant professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland. His research interests involve development of nanostructured, mesoporous films for water splitting and hydrogen production using solar energy.




Koji Sode is Professor of Biotechnology at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan. He has been engaged in several projects with industrial partners in the development of novel biodevices for medical applications. He is the principal investigator of JST CREST program with the project “Cyanofactory”. Currently he works on the biomolecular engineering for the development of a novel biosensing system, and for synthetic biology-based bioprocess design.  

Peter C. K. Vesborg is associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). His research is centered on photocatalysis, with a focus on water splitting, and scalable sustainable energy technologies.



Mei Wang is full Professor at Dalian University of Technology, China. Her research interests are focused on chemical mimics of [FeFe]-H2ases, electrochemical and photochemical hydrogen production by water splitting using nonprecious metal-based catalysts.



Junko Yano is a Staff Scientist in the Physical Biosciences Division, and a principal investigator in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).  At the LBNL, she is pursuing research in the field of natural and artificial photosynthesis, using X-ray spectroscopy techniques at synchrotron and X-ray free electron laser facilities.