Some of the most famous scientific discoveries happened by accident. From Teflon and the microwave oven to penicillin, scientists trying to solve a problem sometimes find unexpected things. This is exactly how we created phosphorene nanoribbons – a material made from one of the universe’s basic building blocks, but that has the potential to revolutionise a wide range of technologies.
It sounds like a magic trick: you put a special device in contact with air, let sunlight fall on it, and it produces free fuel. Yet this is the basic idea of researcher Mihalis Tsampas (NWO Institute DIFFER - Dutch Institute for Fundamental Energy Research) in collaboration with Toyota Motor Europe (TME).