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.
- Broadband transmission
- Dielectric nanocone