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A Spin Coating Method To Deposit Iridium-Based Catalysts onto Silicon for Water Oxidation Photoanodes

Ben-Naim, Micha and Palm, David W and Strickler, Alaina L and Nielander, Adam C and Sanchez, Joel and King, Laurie A and Higgins, Drew C and Jaramillo, Thomas F (2020) A Spin Coating Method To Deposit Iridium-Based Catalysts onto Silicon for Water Oxidation Photoanodes. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. ISSN 1944-8244


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Silicon has shown promise for use as a small band gap (1.1 eV) absorber material in photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. However, the limited stability of silicon in acidic electrolyte requires the use of protection strategies coupled with catalysts. Herein, spin coating is used as a versatile method to directly coat silicon photoanodes with an IrOₓ oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst, reducing the processing complexity compared to conventional fabrication schemes. Biphasic strontium chloride/iridium oxide (SrCl₂:IrOₓ) catalysts are also developed, and both catalysts form photoactive junctions with silicon and demonstrate highphotoanode activity. The iridium oxide photoanode displays a photocurrent onset at 1.06 V vs reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE), while the SrCl₂:IrOₓ photoanode onsets earlier at 0.96 V vs RHE. The differing potentials are consistent with the observed photovoltages of 0.43 and 0.53 V for the IrOₓ and SrCl₂:IrOₓ, respectively. By measuring the oxidation of a reversible redox couple, Fe(CN)₆ ³¯⁄⁴¯, we compare the charge carrier extraction of the devices and show that the addition of SrCl₂ to the IrOx catalyst improves the silicon−electrolyte interface compared to pure IrOₓ. However, the durability of the strontium-containing photoanode remains a challenge, with its photocurrent density decreasing by 90% over 4 h. The IrOₓ photoanode, on the other hand, maintained a stable photocurrent density over this timescale. Characterization of the as-prepared and post-tested material structure via Auger electron spectroscopy identifies catalyst film cracking and delamination as the primary failure modes. We propose that improvements to catalyst adhesion should further the viability of spin coating as a technique for photoanode preparation.

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