High Broadband Light Transmission for Solar Fuels Production Using Dielectric Optical Waveguides in TiO2 Nanocone Arrays

Sisir Yalamanchili, Erik Verlage, Wen Hui Cheng, Katherine T. Fountaine, Philip R. Jahelka, Paul A. Kempler, Rebecca Saive, Nathan S. Lewis*, Harry A. Atwater

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


We describe the fabrication and use of arrays of TiO2 nanocones to yield high optical transmission into semiconductor photoelectrodes covered with high surface loadings of light-absorbing electrocatalysts. Covering over 50% of the surface of a light absorber with an array of high-refractive-index TiO2 nanocones imparted antireflective behavior (<5% reflectance) to the surface and allowed >85% transmission of broadband light to the underlying Si, even when thick metal contacts or opaque catalyst coatings were deposited on areas of the light-facing surface that were not directly beneath a nanocone. Three-dimensional full-field electromagnetic simulations for the 400-1100 nm spectral range showed that incident broadband illumination couples to multiple waveguide modes in the TiO2 nanocones, reducing interactions of the light with the metal layer. A proof-of-concept experimental demonstration of light-driven water oxidation was performed using a p+n-Si photoanode decorated with an array of TiO2 nanocones additionally having a Ni catalyst layer electrodeposited onto the areas of the p+n-Si surface left uncovered by the TiO2 nanocones. This photoanode produced a light-limited photocurrent density of ∼28 mA cm-2 under 100 mW cm-2 of simulated air mass 1.5 illumination, equivalent to the photocurrent density expected for a bare planar Si surface even though 54% of the front surface of the Si was covered by an ∼70 nm thick Ni metal layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)502-508
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Broadband transmission
  • Dielectric nanocone
  • Nanophotonic
  • Optoelectronic
  • Photoelectrochemical
  • Photovoltaic


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