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On the stability enhancement of cuprous oxide water splitting photocathodes by low temperature steam annealing


Azevedo, Joao; Steier, Ludmilla; Dias, Paula; Stefik, Morgan; Sousa, Celia T; Araújo, Joao P; Mendes, Adélio; Grätzel, Michael; Tilley, S David (2014). On the stability enhancement of cuprous oxide water splitting photocathodes by low temperature steam annealing. Energy & Environmental Science, 7(12):4044-4052.

Abstract

Given the intermittent nature of solar radiation, the large-scale use of solar energy requires an efficient energy storage solution. So far, the only practical way to store such large amounts of energy is in the form of a chemical energy carrier, i.e., a fuel. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells offer the ability to convert solar energy directly into chemical energy in the form of hydrogen. Cuprous oxide (Cu2O) is being investigated for photoelectrochemical solar water splitting since it has a band gap of 2.0 eV with favorable energy band positions for water cleavage; it is abundant and environmentally friendly. A major challenge with Cu2O is its limited chemical stability in aqueous environments. We present a simple and low-cost treatment to create a highly stable photocathode configuration for H2 production, consisting of steam treatment of the multilayer structures. The role of this treatment was investigated and the optimized electrodes have shown photocurrents over −5 mA cm−2 with 90% stability over more than 50 h of light chopping (biased at 0 VRHE in pH 5 electrolyte).

Abstract

Given the intermittent nature of solar radiation, the large-scale use of solar energy requires an efficient energy storage solution. So far, the only practical way to store such large amounts of energy is in the form of a chemical energy carrier, i.e., a fuel. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells offer the ability to convert solar energy directly into chemical energy in the form of hydrogen. Cuprous oxide (Cu2O) is being investigated for photoelectrochemical solar water splitting since it has a band gap of 2.0 eV with favorable energy band positions for water cleavage; it is abundant and environmentally friendly. A major challenge with Cu2O is its limited chemical stability in aqueous environments. We present a simple and low-cost treatment to create a highly stable photocathode configuration for H2 production, consisting of steam treatment of the multilayer structures. The role of this treatment was investigated and the optimized electrodes have shown photocurrents over −5 mA cm−2 with 90% stability over more than 50 h of light chopping (biased at 0 VRHE in pH 5 electrolyte).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:540 Chemistry
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:28 May 2015 07:02
Last Modified:08 Dec 2017 13:06
Publisher:RSC Publishing
ISSN:1754-5706
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1039/C4EE02160F

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