New energy storage catalysts

The double perovskite  has atoms of barium (green) and a lanthanide (purple) within a structure of cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red). Photo credit: MIT research team

The perovskite has atoms of barium (green) and lanthanide (purple) within a cobalt (pink) and oxygen (red) structure. Photo credit: MIT research team

They’re abundant, new to science and, say researchers at MIT, give the best ever performance in a reaction that is key to advanced fuel cells and lithium-air batteries. The materials are known as double perovskites and are a variant of minerals commonly found in the Earth’s crust.

Their particular ability to catalyse the splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen that has most enthused scientists, beating all previous contenders for the reaction, including iron and cobalt.

The team responsible for synthesising the first of these compounds and putting it through its paces is also excited that this double perovskite is just one of a whole family of related compounds, meaning there could be even more effective catalysts waiting to be discovered.

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