Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen atoms is a simple reaction that holds important implications towards energy and fuel needs. Photovoltaics — the process that converts solar energy into electricity — offers a feasible way to use light energy to split water. Prof. Peng Chen, chemistry, and his team aimed to optimize this process by studying the surface of nanorods of semiconductor titanium dioxide with respect to levels of photocatalytic reactivity. Their research indicates that the variations in the structure of the surface of the nanorods lead to variable water-splitting activity. Titanium dioxide nanorods can be used as photoanodes in a photochemical cell.