The concept of solar fuels has been around for decades. By using the sun’s energy we can split water or other substances into their element components so we can either use them as they are ( in the case of hydrogen ) or recombine them into synthetic or new fuels.
Success in this area would allow us to make clean liquid,solar or gasous fuels that do not contribute to the global levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere or oceans.
Researchers in various departments of the US Department Of Energy and Caltech have the ability to simulate different possible combinations of elements to analyize their properties such as suitability for solar fuels. Once new materials are found using the simulation, then can be manufactured in very small amounts using an atomic sputtering technology. These samples can be further tested and evualated for the properties towards solar fuels.
Here is a very imformative video about the current state of the art and the search for new solar fuels.