Efficient Solar Water Splitting Photocathodes Comprising a Copper Oxide Heterostructure Protected by a Thin Carbon Layer

Pramod Patil Kunturu, Jurriaan Huskens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) solar water splitting has received extensive attention because it promises to provide an alternative and sustainable source of energy. A key challenge is to achieve a stable PEC system in either acidic or basic electrolyte without degradation of the (photo)electrodes. We have used a cubic Cu2O film and porous granular bilayer Cu2O/CuO composite with a carbon protection layer as photocathode materials. The films were deposited under different conditions, such as variation of the electrodeposition time, thermal oxidation of the Cu2O films in air versus nitrogen atmosphere, and deposition of the carbon materials, and were investigated structurally and with regard to their PEC performance. The optimized electrodes showed photocurrents up to 6.5 and 7.5 mA/cm-2 at potentials of 0 and -0.1 V vs RHE at pH 5.5, respectively. The stabilities of the Cu2O/C and Cu2O/CuO/C photocathodes, at a low bias of 0.3 V vs RHE, were retained after 50 h. The strongly improved photostability of the photocathodes in comparison to electrodes in the absence of a carbon overlayer is attributed to a more effective charge transfer and a protective role of carbon against photocorrosion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7850-7860
Number of pages11
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Volume2
Issue number11
Early online date30 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • carbon layer
  • copper oxides
  • photocathode
  • solar water splitting
  • bilayer composite

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