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Nanostructuring Strategies To Increase the Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting Activity of Silicon Photocathodes

Hellstern, Thomas R and Nielander, Adam C and Chakthranont, Pongkarn and King, Laurie A and Willis, Joshua J and Xu, Shicheng and MacIsaac, Callisto and Hahn, Christopher and Bent, Stacey F and Prinz, Fritz B and Jaramillo, Thomas F (2019) Nanostructuring Strategies To Increase the Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting Activity of Silicon Photocathodes. ACS Applied Nano Materials, 2 (1). pp. 6-11. ISSN 2574-0970

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Abstract

Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a promising route for sustainable hydrogen production. Herein, we demonstrate a photoelectrode motif that enables a nanostructured large-surface area electrocatalyst without requiring a nanostructured semiconductor surface with the goal of promoting electrocatalysis while minimizing surface recombination. We compare the photoelectrochemical H2 evolution activity of two silicon photocathode nanostructuring strategies: (1) direct nanostructuring of the silicon surface and (2) incorporation of nanostructured zinc oxide to increase the electrocatalyst surface area on planar silicon. We observed that silicon photocathodes that utilized nanostructured ZnO supports outperformed nanostructured silicon electrodes by ∼50 mV at open circuit under 1 sun illumination and demonstrated comparable electrocatalytic activity.

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