Solar-to-Hydrogen Efficiency: Shining Light on Photoelectrochemical Device Performance

Tuesday, 30 May 2017: 17:20
Grand Salon A - Section 6 (Hilton New Orleans Riverside)
J. L. Young, H. Döscher, J. F. Geisz, J. A. Turner, and T. G. Deutsch (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)
Direct photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen production aims to provide a clean and cost-effective solar fuel. Solar-to-hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiency is central to evaluating and comparing research results, and it largely establishes the prospect for successfully introducing commercial solar water-splitting systems. Present measurement practices do not follow well-defined standards, and common methods potentially impact research results and their implications. We demonstrate underestimated influence factors and experimental strategies for improved accuracy[1].

Our focus is tandem devices that have the prospect for greater STH efficiency[2], but increased complexity that requires more careful consideration of characterization practices. We perform measurements on an advanced version of the classical GaInP/GaAs design[3] while considering (i) calibration and adjustment of the illumination light-source; (ii) confirmation of the consistency of results by incident photon-to-current efficiency (IPCE), and (iii) definition and confinement of the active area of the device.

We propose applying the following standards for future PEC performance reporting: (i) traceable disclosure of the illumination-source configuration (lamp, filters, optics, PEC configuration) and/or its measured spectral distribution; (ii) thorough device-area definition including confinement of the illumination area and avoidance of indirect light paths; (iii) complementary IPCE confirmation of the solar-generation potential; (iv) proper consideration of faradaic efficiency. We will also give a brief overview of the PEC measurements and capabilities available at NREL to support academic and industry research.

[1] H. Döscher, J. L. Young, J. F. Geisz, J. A. Turner, and T. G. Deutsch, “Solar to hydrogen efficiency: Shining light on phoelectrochemical device performance,” Energy Environ. Sci. 2015.

[2] H. Döscher, J. F. Geisz, T. G. Deutsch, and J. A. Turner, “Sunlight absorption in water – efficiency and design implications for photoelectrochemical devices,” Energy Environ. Sci. 2014.

[3] O. Khaselev and J. A. Turner, “A Monolithic Photovoltaic-Photoelectrochemical Device for Hydrogen Production via Water Splitting,” Science. 1998.