Novel Photoelectrodes and Noble Metal-Free Catalysts for Light-Driven Water Electrolysis
The generation of fuels from sunlight and water is considered as a task of paramount importance for a sustainable energy supply in the future. Decomposition of water by a photoelectrochemical process is a possibility to harvest solar energy in the form of hydrogen in a large scale. For this purpose, a membrane can be used which -when immersed in an aqueous electrolyte and illuminated by sunlight- will be able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Such a device is frequently addressed as artificial leaf. From an economic and environmental point of view this device should comprise of cheap, abundant and non-toxic elements featuring a Solar-to-Hydrogen (STH) efficiency > 10% and generating hydrogen at a price of ~3 €/kg H2.
In our lab two approaches have been pursued to realize artificial leaf type structures:
o triple junction thin film a-Si/µc-Si solar cells in superstrate geometry with integrated catalysts ,
o tandem junction solar cells combined with novel semiconducting ternary metal oxide anodes .
As photoanode materials Fe2WO6 and BiVO4 are under investigation. Their performances have shown considerable improvement with respect to their photovoltage and their photocurrent densities when synthesized using sol-gel and spray pyrolysis. To lower the costs of the device, platinum was replaced by carbon supported MoS2 nanoparticles as hydrogen evolving catalyst. Deposited as a blend with PEDOT:PSS on the backside of the solar cell, a SHE yield of 3.7% was achieved. RuO2 was replaced by manganese and cobalt oxide thin films, respectively.
 Diana Stellmach, Peter Bogdanoff, Onno Gabriel, Bernd Stannowski, Rutger Schlatmann,
Roel van de Krol, Sebastian Fiechter; FORMATEX 2013, 880-886.
 Fatwa F. Abdi, Lihao Han, Arno H.M. Smets, Miro Zeman, Bernard Dam, Roel van de Krol, NATURE COMM. 2013, 4: 2195, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3195.
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