Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Automated synthesis and characterization techniques for solar fuel production

Solar fuel production provides a sustainable route towards simultaneous energy harvesting and storage. However, this technology is hampered by the complexity and slow manual screening of the chemical design space to find suitable catalytic and light-harvesting materials. One solution is offered by automation, which has begun changing the landscape of material discovery and energy research.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Prices vary by article type



Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Assessment of fabrication and characterization techniques based on selected automation criteria.


  1. Burger, B. et al. A mobile robotic chemist. Nature 583, 237–241 (2020).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Buglioni, L., Raymenants, F., Slattery, A., Zondag, S. D. A. & Noël, T. Technological innovations in photochemistry for organic synthesis: flow chemistry, high-throughput experimentation, scale-up, and photoelectrochemistry. Chem. Rev. 122, 2752–2906 (2021).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bai, Y. et al. Accelerated discovery of organic polymer photocatalysts for hydrogen evolution from water through the integration of experiment and theory. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 141, 9063–9071 (2019).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  4. Lignos, I. et al. Synthesis of cesium lead halide perovskite nanocrystals in a droplet-based microfluidic platform: fast parametric space mapping. Nano Lett. 16, 1869–1877 (2016).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Sliozberg, K. et al. Fe–Cr–Al containing oxide semiconductors as potential solar water-splitting materials. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 7, 4883–4889 (2015).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Batchelor, T. A. A. et al. Complex-solid-solution electrocatalyst discovery by computational prediction and high-throughput experimentation. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 60, 6932–6937 (2021).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Li, Z. et al. Scalable fabrication of perovskite solar cells. Nat. Rev. Mater. 3, 18017 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Granda, J. M., Donina, L., Dragone, V., Long, D.-L. & Cronin, L. Controlling an organic synthesis robot with machine learning to search for new reactivity. Nature 559, 377–381 (2018).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Bédard, A.-C. et al. Reconfigurable system for automated optimization of diverse chemical reactions. Science 361, 1220–1225 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Zhong, M. et al. Accelerated discovery of CO2 electrocatalysts using active machine learning. Nature 581, 178–183 (2020).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references


V.A. is grateful for financial support from St John’s College Cambridge (Title A Research Fellowship) and the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



K.P.S. and V.A. conceived and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Katarzyna P. Sokol or Virgil Andrei.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sokol, K.P., Andrei, V. Automated synthesis and characterization techniques for solar fuel production. Nat Rev Mater 7, 251–253 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing