Australian researchers at the University of Queensland, in collaboration with researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have made a breakthrough discovery in the development of cost-effect solar energy and decontamination materials.

Professor Max Lu from the University of Queensland said "We have grown the world’s first titanium oxide single crystals with large amounts of reactive surfaces – something that was predicted as almost impossible."

"Titania nano-crystals are promising materials for cost-effective solar cells, hydrogen production from splitting water, and solar decontamination of pollutants. They are also fantastic for purifying air and water," he said, "One could paint these crystals on to a window or a wall to purify the air in a room."

Professor Lu said that what his team had done would make the manufacture of such materials easy and cheap but it would be about five years for the water and air pollution applications to be commercially available and about five to 10 years for solar energy conversion using such crystals.