Merck

Enabling unassisted solar water splitting by iron oxide and silicon.

Nature communications (2015-06-17)
Ji-Wook Jang, Chun Du, Yifan Ye, Yongjing Lin, Xiahui Yao, James Thorne, Erik Liu, Gregory McMahon, Junfa Zhu, Ali Javey, Jinghua Guo, Dunwei Wang
RESUMEN

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting promises a solution to the problem of large-scale solar energy storage. However, its development has been impeded by the poor performance of photoanodes, particularly in their capability for photovoltage generation. Many examples employing photovoltaic modules to correct the deficiency for unassisted solar water splitting have been reported to-date. Here we show that, by using the prototypical photoanode material of haematite as a study tool, structural disorders on or near the surfaces are important causes of the low photovoltages. We develop a facile re-growth strategy to reduce surface disorders and as a consequence, a turn-on voltage of 0.45 V (versus reversible hydrogen electrode) is achieved. This result permits us to construct a photoelectrochemical device with a haematite photoanode and Si photocathode to split water at an overall efficiency of 0.91%, with NiFeOx and TiO2/Pt overlayers, respectively.

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