New Metallopolymers for Photocatalytic Generation of Hydrogen

Case ID:

This invention is a new, less expensive, and more efficient process for producing hydrogen gas using photoactive metallopolymers with the potential to be incorporated into fuel cells. This invention combines solar cell technology with hydrogen catalysts to photochemically generate hydrogen, rather than electrochemically, with the ability to form into a solid film.


Hydrogen (H2) has the potential for use as a clean alternative energy source, and is generally produced by either reforming hydrocarbons or electrolysis of water. Artificial photosynthetic technology makes use of biomimetic analogues of an active site on an existing biological enzyme, which converts proton sources (such as water) into hydrogen, and existing methods must be performed in solution. This new process makes use of photoactive organic/inorganic hybrid polymers called metallopolymers, which are commonly used for converting light into electricity, but in this case are combined with biomimetic analogues to convert light into hydrogen gas. Such a material can be cast into solid films or used in solution, allowing for greater application flexibility. This invention provides a more cost effective and more efficient photosynthetic method of hydrogen production by combining solar cell and hydrogen catalyst technology.



  • Production of hydrogen for potential use in fuel cell technology – a non-polluting replacement for fossil fuels
  • Production of hydrogen for other industrial applications such as heat treating steel, welding, chemical synthesis of polymers and solvents, manufacturing pharmaceutical products, gas purification, manufacturing semiconductors



  • Exhibits higher conversion efficiency than existing photochemical and electrochemical hydrogen production processes
  • Combines solar cell and hydrogen catalyst technology, two well-known and proven methodologies
  • Less expensive than existing photochemical technologies due to employment of known polymers
  • Reduces the overall costs of fuel cell technology by increasing conversion efficiency
  • Proven flexible for use as a solid film or in solution
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Laura Silva
Sr. Licensing Manager, COS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Dong-Chul Pyun
Richard Glass