RIST Outline

Photocatalysis International Research Center

Director  Akira Fujishima, President 
Research Content To deepen the photocatalysis technology for the construction of practically usable photocatalysis systems
Objetcitves To advance the photocatalysis to the next-stage by integrating technology with self-cleaning, artificial photosynthesis and environmental cleanup.

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-The Research Highlight, 2016-

The field of photocatalysis can be traced back more than 80 years to early observations of the chalking of TiO2-based paints and to studies of the darkening of metal oxides in contact with organic compounds in sunlight. During the past 20 years, it has become an extremely well researched field due to practical interest in air and water remediation, self-cleaning surfaces, and self-sterilizing surfaces. During the same period, there has also been a strong effort to use photocatalysis for light-assisted production of hydrogen. The fundamental aspects of photocatalysis on the most studied photocatalyst, TiO2, are still being actively researched and have recently become quite well understood. The mechanisms by which certain types of organic compounds are decomposed completely to carbon dioxide and water, for example, have been delineated. However, certain aspects such as the photoinduced wetting phenomenon, remain controversial, with some groups maintaining that the effect is a simple one in which organic contaminants are decomposed, while other groups maintain that there are additional effects in which the intrinsic surface properties are modified by light. During the past several years, powerful tools such as surface spectroscopic techniques and scanning probe techniques performed on single crystals in ultrahigh vacuum, and ultrafast pulsed laser spectroscopic techniques have been brought to bear on these problems, and new insights have become possible. Quantum chemical calculations have also provided new insights. New materials have recently been developed based on TiO2, and the sensitivity to visible light has improved.
In the Photocatalysis International Research Center, we will develop fundamental and applied research of the photocatalysis. The center provides support for interdisciplinary photocatalytic materials research and education of the highest quality by collaboration with industry, academia, and the government under one roof while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering that are important to green innovation.

Research on the Energy Photocatalysis

Utilization and conversion of solar energy to fuels and electric energy are an urgent issue in the world. It is indispensable to construct clean energy systems in order to solve the issues. Hydrogen will play an important role in the system because it is an ultimate clean energy. It can be used for a fuel cell. Moreover, hydrogen is used in chemical industries. Hydrogen has to be produced from water using natural energies such as sunlight if one thinks energy and environmental issues. Therefore, achievement of solar hydrogen production from water has been urged. Photocatalytic water splitting is an attractive reaction and will contribute to an ultimate green sustainable chemistry and solving energy and environmental issues resulting in bringing an energy revolution. We are working on the development of new photocatalyst materials for solar water splitting and CO2 fixation based on the original strategy for the design of photocatalyst materials. Moreover, science to understand photocatalytic processes is studied.

Research on the Environmental Photocatalysis

As the single most important effect of TiO2 photocatalysis, its bactericidal activity has been studied in various microorganisms, as well as in fungi. In addition, the mechanism of this
antimicrobial photocatalysis has been revealed as the loss of cell membrane integrity caused by electrons/holes or by reactive oxygen species. While photocatalysis for air-purification has been scientifically studied for more than two decades, and the bactericidal activity of TiO2 photocatalysts is thus well known, in-depth studies of selective applications of TiO2 photocatalysts are still required. Therefore, we are mainly engaged in research in the following themes for development of novel photocatalytic air-purification units.

  • Developing test methods for tracing quantitative decrease of airborne bacteria in the fields based on the JIS and ISO standard test methods for antibacterial performance.
  • Fabrication of prototype air-purification unit using a novel photocatalytic filter, titanium-mesh sheet modified with TiO2.
  • Evaluation of antibacterial performance of prototype air-purification unit together with other tests for decomposition of gaseous pollutants.

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Future Development Goals

To establish top-level center for photocatalysis, as well as to transmit remarkable achievement towards the world in order to expand the field of photocatalysis.

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Innovation of science and technology for solving energy and environmental issues in a global scale and a life style is urged.
Photocatalysis has been paid attention for that science and technology. Researchers with high potentials in TUS work together on the important topics through collaboration in this center. We push forward with our work for the sustainable future.

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