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The Licht research group has taken on the challenge of a comprehensive solution to climate change. We're converting CO2, either directly from air or from smoke stack gas, to useful, valuable carbon nanomaterials including carbon nanotubes, graphene, and nano-onions. We’re working towards transitioning from today’s fossil fuel economy to a renewable one, through the elimination of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power production, as well as iron & fuel production by new, inexpensive, CO2-free, chemistries.

Picture4A new fundemental solar process has been introduced. This STEP process efficiently removes carbon from the atmosphere and generates the staples needed by society, ranging from fuels, to metals, bleach and construction materials, at high solar efficiency and without carbon dioxide generation. By using the full spectrum of sunlight, STEP captures more solar energy than the most efficient solar cell or photoelectrochemical processes.

Sunlight converts CO2 to carbon nanofibers (shown) and drives new CO2-free syntheses for iron, cement and fertilizer.
The Licht group’s C2CNT process CO2 to carbon nanotubes and drives new CO2-free solar syntheses for iron, cement and fertilizer.


In the field of energy storage for devices ranging from EVs to consumer electronics and peak power storage, we’re pioneering the study of new multiple electron (per molecule) storage processes, to learn to create batteries and fuel cells with greater storage capacity than gasoline.

En route to new renewable energy pathways, our explorations range from water thermodynamics to new environmental methodologies & from quantum mechanics to H2, halide, chalcogenide & transition metal chemistry.

Recent Publications - Selected from over 400 studies & patents

  • Ren, Yu, Licht, Peng, Lefler, Liu, Licht, “Recent Advances in Solar Thermal Electrochemical Process (STEP)  for Carbon Neutral Products and High Value Nanocarbons,” ACCOUNTS of Chemical Research52, 3177 (2019); Click here for article
  • Liu, Ren, Licht, Wang, Licht, “Carbon Nano-Onions Made Directly from CO2 by Molten Electrolysis for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation", Advanced Sustainable Systems52, DOI: 10.1002/adsu.201900056, 190056 (2019); Click here for article
  • Liu, Wang, Licht, Licht, “Transformation of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide to graphene,” J. CO2 Utilization36, 288 (2020); Click here for article
  • Licht, Liu, Licht, Wang, Swesi, Chan, “Amplified CO2 reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with C2CNT carbon nanotube composites,” Materials Today Sustainability, 6, 100023 (2019); Click here for article
  • Wang, Liu, Licht, Wang, Licht, “Exploration of alkali cation variation on the synthesis of carbon nanotubes by electrolysis of CO2 in molten Carbonates” J. CO2 Utilization34, 303 (2019); Click here for article
  • Liu, Li, Wang, Peng, Licht, Licht, “Efficient Electrocatalytic Synthesis of Ammonia from Water and Air in a Membrane-Free Cell: Confining the Iron Oxide Catalyst to the Cathode,” European J. Inorg. Chem., DOI: 10.1002/ejic.201900667 (2019).
  • Johnson, Ren, Lefler, Licht, Vicini, Liu, Licht, “Carbon nanotube wools made directly from CO2 by molten electrolysis: Value Driven pathways to carbon dioxide greenhouse gas mitigation,” Materials Today Energy5, 230 (2017); Click here for galley proof
  • Licht, “Co-Production of Cement and Carbon Nanotubes with a Carbon Negative Footprint,” J. CO2 Utilization, 18, 378 (2017).
  • Cui, Zhang, Liu, Liu, Xiang, Liu, Xin, Lefler Licht, "Electrochemical synthesis of ammonia directly from N2 and water over iron-based catalysts supported on activated carbons," Green Chemistry, 19, 298 (2017). Click here to access article
  • Ren, Johnson, Singhal, Licht, “Transformation of the greenhouse gas CO2 by molten electrolysis into a wide controlled selection of carbon nanotubes,” J. CO2 Utilization, 18, 335 (2017).
  • Cui, Xiang, Liu, Xin, Liu, Licht, "A novel rechargeable zinc-air battery with molten salt electrolyte," J. Power Sources, B 342, 435 (2017).
  • Cui, Xiang, Liu, Hongyu Xin, Liu, Licht, “A long cycle life, high coulombic efficiency iron molten air battery," Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 1, 474 & back cover (2017).
  • Licht, "Photoelectrochemical Conversion Processes," Chapter 24 in Springer Handbook of Electrochemistry, Eds.: Breitkopf, Lyons, ISBN 978-3- 662-46657- 5,Springer New York (2017). Click here to access article
  • Licht, Liu, Cui, Lau, Hu, Stuart, Wang, El-Gazawi, Li, "Comparison of alternative molten electrolytes for water splitting to generate hydrogen fuel," J. Electrochem. Soc, 163, F1163 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Zhu, Wang, Wang, Liu, Wu, Licht, "The adoption and mechanism of KIO4 for redox-equilibrated stabilization of FeO42− as an equalizer in water," Ionics, 22, 1967 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Wu, Ji, Li, Yuan, Zhu, Wang*, Zhang, Licht, “Efficient, high yield carbon dioxide and water transformation to methane by electrolysis in molten salts,” Advanced Materials Technology, 1, 60092 (2016).
  • Cui, Xin, Liu, Liu, Hao, Guo, Licht, "Improved cycle iron molten air battery performance using a robust fin air electrode," J. Electrochem. Soc., 165, A88 (2017). Click here to access article
  • Ren, Licht, "Tracking airborne CO2 mitigation and low cost transformation into valuable carbon nanotubes,” Scientific Reports –, 6, 27760 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Lau, Dey, Licht, “Thermodynamic assessment of CO2 to carbon nanofiber transformation for carbon sequestration in a combined cycle gas or a coal power plant," Energy Conversion & Management, 122, 400 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Wu, Li, Ji, Liu, Li, Yuan, Zhang, Ren, Lefler, Wang, Licht, “One-Pot Synthesis of Nanostructured Carbon Material from Carbon Dioxide via Electrolysis in Molten Carbonate Salts,” Carbon, 106, 208 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Li, Wang, Licht, "Sustainable Electrochemical Synthesis of large grain or catalyst sized iron," Journal of Sustainable Metallurgy, 2, 405 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Zhu, Wang, Wang, Liu, Wu, Licht, "Solar Thermoelectric Field Photocatlysis for Efficient Organic synthesis Exemplified by Toluene to Benzoic Acid," Applied Catalysis B, 193, 151-159 (2016).
  • Licht, Douglas, Ren, Carter, Lefler, Pint, "Carbon Nanotubes Produced from Ambient Carbon Dioxide for Environmentally Sustainable Lithium-Ion and Sodium-Ion Battery Anodes," ACS Central Science, 2, 162. Click here to access article
  • Dey, Ren, El-Ghazawi, Licht, "How does amalgamated Ni cathode affect Carbon Nanotube growth? A density functional theory study," RCS Advances, 6, 27191 (2016).
  • Lefler, Stuart, Parkey, Licht, “Higher capacity, improved conductive matrix VB2/air batteries," J. Electrochem. Soc., 163 A781 (2016). Click here to access article
  • Li, Lau, Licht, "Sungas: instead of syngas: ...CO & H2 from a single beam of sunlight," Advanced Science, 2, 1500260 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Ren, Li, Lau, Li, Gonzalez-Urbina, Licht "One-pot synthesis of carbon nanofibers from CO2," Nano Letters, 15, 6142 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Li, Liu, Cui, Lau, Stuart, Licht, "A one-pot synthesis of H2 & carbon fuels from H2O & CO2" Adv. Energy Mat., 7, 140179 (2015).
  • Ren, Lau, Lefler, Licht, "The minimum electrolytic energy needed to convert CO2...," J. Phys. Chem. C, 119, 23342 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Zhu, Wang, Liu, Wang Licht, "Towards efficient Solar STEP Synth. Organic," Solar Energy, 113, 303 (2015).
  • Liu, Li, Cui, Liu , Hao, Guo, Xu, Licht, "Critical advances for the iron molten air battery," J. Mat. Chem. A, 3, 21039 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Stuart, Lefler, Rhodes, Licht, "High energy capacity TiB2/VB2... air batteries," J. Electrochem. Soc., 162, A432 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Stuart, Hohendel, Li, Xiao, Parkey, Rhodes, Licht, "The net discharge ... VB2/Air battery" J. Electrochem. Soc., 162, A192 (2015). Click here to access article
  • Licht, Cui, Wang, Li, Lau, Lui, "Ammonia synthesis by N2 & steam by … nanoscale Fe2O3," Science, 345, 637 (2014). Click here to access article
  • Li, Licht, "Advances in … the synthesis of ammonia from air & water ..," Inorg. Chem., 53, 10042 (2014).
  • Zhu, Wang, Liu, Wang, Wu, Licht, "STEP Organic Synthesis," Green Chemistry, 16, 4758 (2014).
  • Licht, Cui, "A Low Temperature Iron Molten Air Battery," J. Materials Chemistry A, 2, 10577 (2014).
  • Licht, Cui, Stuart, Wang, Lau, "Molten Air Batteries - A new, highest energy class of batteries," Energy & Environ. Sci., 6, 3646 (2013).
  • Farmand, Licht, Ramaker, "Studying Multi-electron Charge Transfer in Fe(VI)," J. Phys. Chem. C., 117, 19875 (2013).
  • Cui, Licht, "Critical STEP advances for sustainable iron production," Green Chemistry, 15, 881 (2013).
  • Licht, Wu, Hettige, Lau, Asercion, Stuart, "STEP Cement: CaO without CO2" Chem. Comm., 48, 6019 (2012).
  • Wang, Wu, Zhang, Licht, "STEP Wastewater Treatment," ChemSusChem, 5, 2000 (2012).
  • Licht, "Efficient Solar-Driven Synthesis, Carbon Capture, and Desalinization, STEP," Adv. Mat., 47, 5592 (2011).

Past Publications - Selected from over 400 studies & patents

  • Licht, Hodes, Tenne, Manassen, "A Light Variation Insensitive High Effic. Solar Cell," Nature, 326, 863 (1987).
  • Licht, "A Description of Energy Conversion in Photoelectrochemical Solar Cells," Nature, 330, 148 (1987).
  • Licht, "pH Measurement in Concentrated Alkaline Solutions" Analytical Chemistry, 57, 514 (1985).
  • Licht, Cammarata, Wrighton, "Time/Spatial Dependence of <105 Molecules," Science, 243, 1176 (1989).
  • Licht, Peramunage, "Efficient photoelectrochemical solar cells," Nature, 345, 330 (1990).
  • Licht, Peramunage, "Efficiency in a liquid solar cell," Nature, 354, 440 (1991).
  • Peramunage, Licht, "A Novel Solid Sulfur Cathode for Aqueous Batteries," Science, 261, 1029 (1993).
  • Licht, Wang, Ghosh, "Energetic Iron(VI) Chemistry: The Super-Iron Battery," Science, 285, 1039 (1999).
  • Licht, Wang, Mukerji, Soga, Umeno, Tributsch, "Over 18% solar conversion to H2 fuel; …," Int. J. H2 Energy, 26, 7 (2001).
  • Licht, Halperin, Kalina, Zidman, "Electrochemical Potential Tuned Solar Water Splitting," Chem. Comm., 3006 (2003).
  • Licht, Wu, Yu, Wang, " Renewable Highest Capacity VB2/Air Energy Storage," Chem. Comm., 3257 (2008).
  • Licht, "STEP: A solar chemical process to end anthropogenic global warming," J. Phys. Chem. C., 113, 16283 (2009).

Prof. Stuart Licht completed his Ph.D. at the Weizmann Institute, and a Postdoc at MIT. Prior to joining the faculty at George Washington University, he served as a Program Director at the NSF, was Chair of Chemistry at UMass, and has received awards including the 2017 Hilldebrand Award, the 2016 BASF 150 th Anniversary Energy Storage Award, the Electrochemical Society Energy Technology Research Award, the Alcoa Aluminum Foundation Science Prize, the Trachtenburg Prize of the George Washington University, the Gustella Award of the Technion, and held the Carlson Endowed Chair in Chemistry at Clark University.

For further information, contact Prof. Stuart Licht, George Washington University,

More information on The George Washington University can be found at GWU's Foggy Bottom Campus is located four blocks from the White House, and GWU's Science & Technology Campus is located near Dulles Airport, in Ashburn, VA.

More information about the Chemistry department at GWU is found by following the link.

Licht group's offices & laboratories are at the Science & Technology Campus, Ashburn, VA, phone: 703-726-8225

Licht's DC Office is in the Chemistry Dept., Suite 4000, 800 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC, phone: 202-994-6121

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