Synthesis of chemicals using solar energy with stable photoelectrochemically active heterostructures

Mubeen, Syed, Singh, Nirala, Lee, Joun, Stucky, Galen D., Moskovits, Martin and McFarland, Eric W. (2013) Synthesis of chemicals using solar energy with stable photoelectrochemically active heterostructures. Nano Letters, 13 5: 2110-2115. doi:10.1021/nl400502u

Author Mubeen, Syed
Singh, Nirala
Lee, Joun
Stucky, Galen D.
Moskovits, Martin
McFarland, Eric W.
Title Synthesis of chemicals using solar energy with stable photoelectrochemically active heterostructures
Journal name Nano Letters   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1530-6984
Publication date 2013-05-08
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1021/nl400502u
Open Access Status
Volume 13
Issue 5
Start page 2110
End page 2115
Total pages 6
Place of publication Washington, DC, United States
Publisher American Chemical Society
Language eng
Abstract Efficient and cost-effective conversion of solar energy to useful chemicals and fuels could lead to a significant reduction in fossil hydrocarbon use. Artificial systems that use solar energy to produce chemicals have been reported for more than a century. However the most efficient devices demonstrated, based on traditionally fabricated compound semiconductors, have extremely short working lifetimes due to photocorrosion by the electrolyte. Here we report a stable, scalable design and molecular level fabrication strategy to create photoelectrochemically active heterostructure (PAH) units consisting of an efficient semiconductor light absorber in contact with oxidation and reduction electrocatalysts and otherwise protected by alumina. The functional heterostructures are fabricated by layer-by-layer, template-directed, electrochemical synthesis in porous anodic aluminum oxide membranes to produce high density arrays of electronically autonomous, nanostructured, corrosion resistant, photoactive units (∼109-1010 PAHs per cm2). Each PAH unit is isolated from its neighbor by the transparent electrically insulating oxide cellular enclosure that makes the overall assembly fault tolerant. When illuminated with visible light, the free floating devices have been demonstrated to produce hydrogen at a stable rate for over 24 h in corrosive hydroiodic acid electrolyte with light as the only input. The quantum efficiency (averaged over the solar spectrum) for absorbed photons-to-hydrogen conversion was 7.4% and solar-to-hydrogen energy efficiency of incident light was 0.9%. The fabrication approach is scalable for commercial manufacturing and readily adaptable to a variety of earth abundant semiconductors which might otherwise be unstable as photoelectrocatalysts.
Keyword anodic aluminum oxide
Artificial photosynthesis
H2 production
solar cell
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: School of Chemical Engineering Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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