Metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) structures are widely used in Si-based solar water-splitting photoelectrodes to protect the Si layer from corrosion. Typically, there is a tradeoff between efficiency and stability when optimizing insulator thickness. Moreover, lithographic patterning is often required for fabricating MIS photoelectrodes. In this study, we demonstrate improved Si-based MIS photoanodes with thick insulating layers fabricated using thin-film reactions to create localized conduction paths through the insulator and electrodeposition to form metal catalyst islands. These fabrication approaches are low-cost and highly scalable, and yield MIS photoanodes with low onset potential, high saturation current density, and excellent stability. By combining this approach with a p+n-Si buried junction, further improved oxygen evolution reaction (OER) performance is achieved with an onset potential of 0.7 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) and saturation current density of 32 mA/cm2under simulated AM1.5G illumination. Moreover, in stability testing in 1 M KOH aqueous solution, a constant photocurrent density of ~22 mA/cm2is maintained at 1.3 V versus RHE for 7 days.
Catalytic interface of semiconductor photoelectrodes is critical for high-performance photoelectrochemical solar water splitting because of its multiple roles in light absorption, electrocatalysis, and corrosion protection. Nevertheless, simultaneously optimizing each of these processes represents a materials conundrum owing to conflicting requirements of materials attributes at the electrode surface. Here we show an approach that can circumvent these challenges by collaboratively exploiting corrosion-resistant surface stoichiometry and structurally-tailored reactive interface. Nanoporous, density-graded surface of ‘black’ gallium indium phosphide (GaInP2), when combined with ammonium-sulfide-based surface passivation, effectively reduces reflection and surface recombination of photogenerated carriers for high efficiency photocatalysis in the hydrogen evolution half-reaction, but also augments electrochemical durability with lifetime over 124 h via strongly suppressed kinetics of corrosion. Such synergistic control of stoichiometry and structure at the reactive interface provides a practical pathway to concurrently enhance efficiency and durability of semiconductor photoelectrodes without solely relying on the development of new protective materials.more » « less
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- Nature Publishing Group
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- Nature Communications
- Medium: X
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- National Science Foundation
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