Cell splits water via sunlight to produce hydrogen

David Kilper/WUSTL PhotoPratim Biswas and his group have developed a method to make a variety of oxide semiconductors that, when put into water promote chemical reactions that split water into hydrogen and oxygen.Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a unique photocatalytic cell that splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen in water using sunlight and the power of a nanostructured catalyst. The group is developing novel methodologies for synthesis of nanostructured films with superior opto-electronic properties.

Planetary scientist says: Focus on Europa

NASALet’s visit Europa!William B. McKinnon, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, says the space science community suffers from an embarrassment of riches when pondering which of Jupiter’s moons should be studied next, because they all differ in the way that they can reveal more about planets and how they behave. But he thinks it is Europa that clearly commands the most attention.

Two other Mars missions heating up

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (above) is poised to go into orbit around Mars in March, then spend about six months aerobraking to place the spacecraft in a low circular orbit by this fall.Two Mars orbiter missions — one from NASA, the other from the European Space Agency (ESA) — will open new vistas in the exploration of Mars through the use of sophisticated ground-penetrating radars, providing international researchers with the first direct clues about the Red Planet’s subsurface structure. Roger Phillips, Ph.D., Washington University in St. Louis Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences in Arts & Sciences, is participating in both the Mars Express (ESA) and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) missions by lending his expertise in radar. Phillips says that the combination of the radars on the two missions will provide important and unique data sets that will directly map the structure of the upper portions of the interior of Mars. More…

Water detection at Gusev crater described

Alian Wang in the laboratoryA large team of NASA scientists, led by earth and planetary scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, details the first solid set of evidence for water having existed on Mars at the Gusev crater, exploration site of the rover Spirit.

Sustainable management of big rivers is topic of Earth Day forum, April 22

Photo courtesy U.S. Army Corps of EngineersBarge traffic makes its way through a lock on the Upper Mississippi.”Our Rivers: A Sustainable Resource?” is the focus of a public education forum that four Washington University faculty will lead as part of a community-wide symposium being held in conjunction with the 5th annual St. Louis Earth Day Celebration, April 22-23. The sustainable rivers program will be held April 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will feature Washington University faculty Charles Buescher, professor of environmental engineering, Robert Criss, Ph.D., professor of earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences and William Lowry, Ph.D., professor of political science in Arts & Sciences. The colloquium will provide a background history of the rivers in our region and their various uses in transportation, agriculture, power production, recreation and public water supply.

Award-winning video captures water, oil, mixing

Clip of the award-winning video that shows oil mixing with water.What happens when water and oil mix? A tornado. An award-winning video from a mechanical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis shows how: http://mesun4.wustl.edu/ME/faculty/aqshen/news.html