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Solution-Processed Cu$_2$S Nanostructures for Solar Hydrogen Production


Zhang, Xi; Pollitt, Stephan; Jung, Gihun; Niu, Wenzhe; Adams, Pardis; Bühler, Jan; Grundmann, Nora S; Erni, Rolf; Nachtegaal, Maarten; Ha, Neul; Jung, Jisu; Shin, Byungha; Yang, Wooseok; Tilley, S David (2023). Solution-Processed Cu$_2$S Nanostructures for Solar Hydrogen Production. ACS Applied Bio Materials, 35(6):2371-2380.

Abstract

Cu$_2$S is a promising solar energy conversion material due to its suitable optical properties, high elemental earth abundance, and nontoxicity. In addition to the challenge of multiple stable secondary phases, the short minority carrier diffusion length poses an obstacle to its practical application. This work addresses the issue by synthesizing nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin films, which enables increased charge carrier collection. A simple solution-processing method involving the preparation of CuCl and CuCl$_2$ molecular inks in a thiol-amine solvent mixture followed by spin coating and low-temperature annealing was used to obtain phase-pure nanostructured (nanoplate and nanoparticle) Cu$_2$S thin films. The photocathode based on the nanoplate Cu$_2$S (FTO/Au/Cu$_2$S/CdS/TiO$_2$/RuO$_x$) reveals enhanced charge carrier collection and improved photoelectrochemical water-splitting performance compared to the photocathode based on the non-nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin film reported previously. A photocurrent density of 3.0 mA cm$^{–2}$ at −0.2 versus a reversible hydrogen electrode (V$_{RHE}$) with only 100 nm thickness of a nanoplate Cu$_2$S layer and an onset potential of 0.43 V$_{RHE}$ were obtained. This work provides a simple, cost-effective, and high-throughput method to prepare phase-pure nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin films for scalable solar hydrogen production.

Abstract

Cu$_2$S is a promising solar energy conversion material due to its suitable optical properties, high elemental earth abundance, and nontoxicity. In addition to the challenge of multiple stable secondary phases, the short minority carrier diffusion length poses an obstacle to its practical application. This work addresses the issue by synthesizing nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin films, which enables increased charge carrier collection. A simple solution-processing method involving the preparation of CuCl and CuCl$_2$ molecular inks in a thiol-amine solvent mixture followed by spin coating and low-temperature annealing was used to obtain phase-pure nanostructured (nanoplate and nanoparticle) Cu$_2$S thin films. The photocathode based on the nanoplate Cu$_2$S (FTO/Au/Cu$_2$S/CdS/TiO$_2$/RuO$_x$) reveals enhanced charge carrier collection and improved photoelectrochemical water-splitting performance compared to the photocathode based on the non-nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin film reported previously. A photocurrent density of 3.0 mA cm$^{–2}$ at −0.2 versus a reversible hydrogen electrode (V$_{RHE}$) with only 100 nm thickness of a nanoplate Cu$_2$S layer and an onset potential of 0.43 V$_{RHE}$ were obtained. This work provides a simple, cost-effective, and high-throughput method to prepare phase-pure nanostructured Cu$_2$S thin films for scalable solar hydrogen production.

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Other titles:Solution-Processed Cu2S Nanostructures for Solar Hydrogen Production
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
08 Research Priority Programs > Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion
Dewey Decimal Classification:540 Chemistry
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > General Chemistry
Physical Sciences > General Chemical Engineering
Physical Sciences > Materials Chemistry
Uncontrolled Keywords:Materials Chemistry, General Chemical Engineering, General Chemistry
Language:English
Date:8 March 2023
Deposited On:20 Feb 2024 08:38
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:37
Publisher:American Chemical Society (ACS)
ISSN:2576-6422
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c03489
PubMed ID:37008405
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID184737
  • : Project TitlePhotoelectrochemical Synthesis of Hydrogen and Value-Added Chemicals for a Sustainable Chemical Industry
  • : FunderUZH
  • : Grant IDFK-19-117
  • : Project Title
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)