Laboratory of Molecular Research for Solar Energy Innovations


Research interests of SOLEIL Group focus on design, synthesis & application of nanomaterials and advanced architectures for solar energy technologies and photo-driven biocatalytic  applications. However, now, it starts to be obvious that with deep knowledge on synthesis and functionalization of metal oxide nano-architectures for solar energy conversion we can start to ask new questions about underlying understanding of elementary chemical reactions and photoelectrochemical processes and finally address them by new ultrafast spectroscopic and in-situ conceptual techniques allowing to directly investigate charge transfer kinetics phenomena  We believe, that this conceptual approach to the molecular systems to identify the major bottlenecks hampering the efficiency of current solar systems has a bright future.

Research Topics:

Investigation of the combined electro-photo-reduction of CO2 at selected catalysts  taking in parallel, profit from the extra activation of the process provided by the plasmonic nanostructures

Identification and recognition of the kinetic processes governing the performance of the earth abundant materials and their integrated systems with use of the ultrafast TAS approach (combined charge carrier dynamics & kinetic analysis)

Identification & synthesis of radically new photoactive materials

Design, construction & understanding of a sensing mechanism of the photoelectrochemical biosensors based on the polycrystalline semiconductors and demonstrate a proof of concept through the quantification of the biosensing activity and efficiency of the overall PEC sensor for a number of selected bioanalytes.

Renata Solarska, PhD, DSc
phone: +48 22 55 43711
room: 05.03

Renata Solarska, PhD, DSc


Tel.: +48 22 55 43711

Room: 05.03

Head of SOLEIL – Solar Energy Innovation Laboratory

Since April 2016 Assistant Professor in the Center of New Technology at University of Warsaw. She received her PhD degree in Chemistry from University of Geneva in 2006 and since then she has been involved in different initiatives and research devoted to nanostructured materials and their use for energy harvesting, conversion and environmental approaches. She has nearly two decades of expertise in electrochemistry, followed by photoelectrochemistry and photophysiscs of semiconductor, metals and hybrid nanostructures. Besides her research activity, she is also involved in the activity of the Europe Section of the Electrochemical Society as a vice-chair, with an aim to support activities in electrochemistry and solid state science and recognition of the society among scientists.

Education & Degrees:

2012/ 2013     Diploma in Management of Research Projects & Development Activities –  University of Economics and Innovation, Lublin, Poland

2006                Ph.D. in Chemistry from University of Geneva, Switzerland

2005 – 2007    Study in Pharmaceutical Sciences – University of Geneva, Switzerland

2002 – 2006    Ph.D. study at University of Geneva, Switzerland

2000 – 2002:   Pharmacy study – Academy of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland

2001                M.Sc. in Chemistry from University of Warsaw, Poland


Positions & Professional  Experience:

Jan 1, 2019     Chairperson of the ECS Europe Section

Oct.2018         Group Leader of Laboratory of Solar Energy Innovations_SOLEIL in Centre of New Technologies University of Warsaw (CeNT UW)

Since 2013     Adiunct/ Assistant Professor in Laboratory of Photoelectrochemistry and Solar Energy Conversion in CeNT UW, University of Warsaw

2009-2016      Adiunct at the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Warsaw

2009                Grantee of “Homing” Programme of Polish Foundation for Science (FNP)

2008               Research Fellow within the frame of an individual grant from SNF/JSPS in Photocatalytic Center of NIMS in Tsukuba, Japan

2007- 2009     Research Associate in Laboratory for High Performance Ceramics, EMPA Materials Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland

2006 – 2007    Postdoctoral Fellow in Department of Crystallography, University of Geneva

2002 – 2006    Ph.D   study in Department of Inorganic, Analytical and Applied Chemistry, University of Geneva under research supervision of  Prof. Jan Augustynski

2002                Research trainee in Laboratory of Supramolecular Chemistry in Institute of Physical Chemistry, Polish Academy of Sciences


Ongoing Projects:

CSA FET Flagships –816336 SUNRISE _Horizon2020 EU

Design, construction and investigations of earth abundant materials based heterojunctions for high efficiency solar energy conversionRenata Solarska2018-2022SONATA BIS NCN
Insight into combined electrochemical-photochemical activation of carbon dioxideRenata Solarska2019-2019OPUS NCN


Selected Publications:

Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting on Very Thin WO3 Films Activated by High Temperature Tin Diffusion; A. Jelinska, K.Bienkowski, M. Sarnowska, M. Pisarek, M. Strawski, D. Kurzydlowski, R. Solarska & J. Augustynski; just accepted in ACS Catalysis (2018)

Enhanced Photo-Electro CO2 Reduction System Based on Mixed Cu2O Nonstoichiometric-TiO2 Photocathode; E. Szaniawska, K. Bienkowski, P. Kulesza & R. Solarska; Catalysis Today 300 (2018) 145-151

Plasmon resonance-enhanced photoelectrodes and photocatalysts; J. Augustynski, K. Bienkowski, R.  Solarska; Coordination Chemistry Reviews 325 (2016) 116-124

Solar-driven water oxidation mediated by an electron-coupled-proton buffer; L. G. Bloor, R. Solarska, K. Bienkowski, P. J. Kulesza, J. Augustynski, M. D. Symes, and L. Cronin; Journal of the American Chemical Society  138 (2016) 6707-6710

Highly efficient and stable solar water splitting at (Na)WO3 photoanodes in acidic electrolyte assisted by non-noble metal oxygen evolution catalyst; M. Sarnowska, K. Bienkowski, R. Solarska & J. Augustynski; Advanced Energy Materials 6 (2016) 1600526

Enhanced water splitting at thin film tungsten trioxide photoanodes bearing plasmonic gold–polyoxometalate particles; R. Solarska, K. Bieńkowski, S. Żołądek, A. Majcher, T. Stefaniuk, P. J. Kulesza, J. Augustyński; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 53 (2014)  14196-14200

Microwave-assisted nonaqueous synthesis of WO3 nanoparticles for crystallographically oriented photoanodes for water splitting; S. Hilaire,  M. J. Süess, N. Kränzlin, K. Bieńkowski, R. Solarska, J. Augustyński, M.  Niederberger; J. Mater. Chem. A 2 (2014) 20530-20537

Nanoporous WO3–Fe2O3 films: structural and photo-electrochemical characterization; R. Solarska, K. Bieńkowski, A. Królikowska, M. Dolata, J. Augustyński; Funct. Mater. Let. 7 (2014) 1440006

To what extent do the nanostructured photoelectrodes perform better than their macrocrystaline counterparts? J. Augustyński, R. Solarska: Catalysis Science and Technology 3 (2013) 1810-1814

Highly efficient water splitting by a dual-absorber tandem cell; J. Brillet, J-H. Yum, M. Cornuz, T. Hisatomi, R. Solarska, J. Augustyński, M. Graetzel, K. Sivula;  Nature Photonics 6 (2012) 824-828

Highly stable efficient visible-light driven water photoelectrolysis system using nanocrystalline WO3 photoanode and methane sulfonic acid electrolyte;  R. Solarska, R. Jurczakowski, J. Augustyński; Nanoscale 4 (2012) 1553-1556

Enhancement of WO3 performance through resonance coupling with Ag nanoparticles; R. Solarska, A. Królikowska, K. Bieńkowski, T. Stefaniuk, J. Augustyński; Energy Procedia, 22 (2011) 137-146 (open access)

Metal oxide photoanodes for water splitting;  J. Augustyński, B.D. Alexander, R. Solarska;  Top. Curr. Chem. 303 (2011) 1-38

Silver nanoparticles-induced photocurrent enhancement at WO3 photoanodes;  R.Solarska, A. Królikowska, J. Augustyński; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 49 (2010) 7980-7983

Tailoring the morphology of WO3 films with substitutional cation doping: Effect on the photoelectrochemical properties; R. Solarska, B.D. Alexander, A. Braun, R. Jurczakowski, G. Fortunato, M. Stiefel, T. Graule, J. Augustyński: Electrochim. Acta 55 (2010) 7780-7787

Nanoscale calcium bismuth mixed oxide with enhanced photocatalytic performance under visible light; R.Solarska, A. Heel, J. Ropka, A. Braun, L. Holzer, J. Ye, T. Graule;  Applied Catalysis A: General 382 (2010) 190-196

Highlight: Metal oxide photoanodes for solar hydrogen production; B. D. Alexander, P. J. Kulesza, I. Rutkowska, R. Solarska & J. Augustyński,  J. Mater. Chem. 18 (2008) 2298-2303

Patent: Electrodes with tungsten oxide photovoltaic film on glass; J. Augustynski, M. Ulmann, R. Solarska,; Brit. UK Pat.Appl. (2005), Int. Pub. Nº : WO 2005/103329 A2

Highly efficient sunlight-driven seawater splitting in a photo-electrochemical cell with chlorine evolved at nanostructured WO3 photo-anode and hydrogen stored as hydride within metallic cathode
Jadwiszczak, M., Jakubow‐Piotrowska, K., Kedzierzawski, P., Bienkowski, K., & Augustynski, J. (2019)
Adv. Energy. Mater. nr 1903213
Enhanced photoelectrochemical CO2-reduction system based on mixed Cu2O–nonstoichiometric TiO2 photocathode
Szaniawska, E., Bienkowski, K., Rutkowska, I. A., Kulesza, P. J., & Solarska, R. (2018).
Catalysis Today, 300, 145-151.
Solar-driven water oxidation and decoupled hydrogen production mediated by an electron-coupled-proton buffer.
Bloor, L. G., Solarska, R., Bienkowski, K., Kulesza, P. J., Augustynski, J., Symes, M. D., & Cronin, L. (2016).
Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(21), 6707-6710.
Plasmon resonance-enhanced photoelectrodes and photocatalysts
Augustynski, J., Bienkowski, K., & Solarska, R. (2016)
Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 325, 116-124
Highly Efficient and Stable Solar Water Splitting at (Na) WO3 Photoanodes in Acidic Electrolyte Assisted by Non‐Noble Metal Oxygen Evolution Catalyst.
Sarnowska, M., Bienkowski, K., Barczuk, P. J., Solarska, R., & Augustynski, J. (2016).
Advanced Energy Materials, 6(14), 1600526.
Enhanced water splitting at thin film tungsten trioxide photoanodes bearing plasmonic gold–polyoxometalate particles.
Solarska, R., Bienkowski, K., Zoladek, S., Majcher, A., Stefaniuk, T., Kulesza, P. J., & Augustynski, J. (2014).
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 53(51), 14196-14200.
Nanoporous WO 3–Fe 2 O 3 films; structural and photo-electrochemical characterization.
Solarska, R., Bieńkowski, K., Królikowska, A., Dolata, M., & Augustyński, J. (2014).
Functional Materials Letters, 7(06), 1440006.
Microwave-assisted nonaqueous synthesis of WO 3 nanoparticles for crystallographically oriented photoanodes for water splitting.
Hilaire, S., Süess, M. J., Kränzlin, N., Bieńkowski, K., Solarska, R., Augustyński, J., & Niederberger, M. (2014).
Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2(48), 20530-20537.
To what extent do the nanostructured photoelectrodes perform better than their macrocrystalline counterparts?
Augustynski, J., & Solarska, R. (2013).
Catalysis Science & Technology, 3(7), 1810-1814.
Enhancement of WO3 performance through resonance coupling with Ag nanoparticles.
Solarska, R., Krolikowska, A., Bienkowski, K., Stefaniuk, T., & Augustynski, J. (2012).
Energy Procedia, 22, 137-146.
Highly efficient water splitting by a dual-absorber tandem cell
Brillet, J., Yum, J. H., Cornuz, M., Hisatomi, T., Solarska, R., Augustynski, J., ... & Sivula, K. (2012)
Nature Photonics, 6(12), 824
Metal oxide photoanodes for water splitting.
Augustyński, J., Alexander, B., & Solarska, R. (2011).
Photocatalysis, 1-38.
Nanoscale calcium bismuth mixed oxide with enhanced photocatalytic performance under visible light.
Solarska, R., Heel, A., Ropka, J., Braun, A., Holzer, L., Ye, J., & Graule, T. (2010).
Applied Catalysis A: General, 382(2), 190-196.
Tailoring the morphology of WO3 films with substitutional cation doping: effect on the photoelectrochemical properties.
Solarska, R., Alexander, B. D., Braun, A., Jurczakowski, R., Fortunato, G., Stiefel, M., ... & Augustynski, J. (2010).
Electrochimica Acta, 55(26), 7780-7787.
Metal oxide photoanodes for solar hydrogen production.
Alexander, B. D., Kulesza, P. J., Rutkowska, I., Solarska, R., & Augustynski, J. (2008).
Journal of Materials Chemistry, 18(20), 2298-2303.

Project title: HERA (Hydrogen Energy Rechargable Architectures): Coupling of on-demand hydrogen generation and storage

Implementation in a consortium: Uniwersytet Warszawski, CeNT dr hab. Renata Solarska coordinator
InphoCat Kraków Firma technologiczna

Source of funding: NCBiR (Norwegian funds)

Total budget: 6 475 885 PLN

Project duration: 01.07.2020 – 01.07.2023

About the project:
The HERA project has an ambition to bring knowledge on the “solar hydrogen” production & storage closer to the users and, via technological optimization, translate it to a product. This goal will be achieved by integrating lab-scale studies with system-oriented experimental examinations, yet unapplied to the compounds/composites proposed in HERA. The current systems for the “solar hydrogen” production consume excessive amount of energy, to overcome the oxygen kinetic-related overpotential, and cannot provide enough power in an economically feasible way. Also, they do not include the storage option for the produced hydrogen. Therefore, the main HERA’s goal is to construct a kinetically enhanced PEC device that will provide the absorption of the produced H2 in the cathode material. The proposed setup will also allow for the on demand release of the absorbed gas. The photooxidation reaction will be the driving force of the planned architecture. It will involve other than water oxidation processes that are expected to provide enough electrons for the water reduction, hydrogen formation and its subsequent absorption by the cathode. The latter will be realized by application of metal hydrides as a hydrogen storage medium. In HERA, we will focus on the investigation of A2B7- and AB-type alloys, in view of their versatility for the PEC hydrogen production and storage. The research will to go far beyond single case examples and cover systematic investigations of multi-substituted compositions, underlying the relationship between the fundamental material properties and functionalities in the studied photoelectrochemical architectures. We expect that HERA achievements will contibute to breakthroughs in the field of design and applications of the environment-friendly and economically viable renewable energy-based technologies.