Integrated Solar-Driven Device with a Front Surface Semitransparent Catalysts for Unassisted CO2 Reduction

Wen Hui Cheng, Matthias H. Richter, Ralph Müller, Michael Kelzenberg, Sisir Yalamanchili, Phillip R. Jahelka, Andrea N. Perry, Pin Chieh Wu, Rebecca Saive, Frank Dimroth, Bruce S. Brunschwig, Thomas Hannappel, Harry A. Atwater*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Monolithic integrated photovoltaic-driven electrochemical (PV-EC) artificial photosynthesis is reported for unassisted CO2 reduction. The PV-EC structures employ triple junction photoelectrodes with a front mounted semitransparent catalyst layer as a photocathode. The catalyst layer is comprised of an array of microscale triangular metallic prisms that redirect incoming light toward open areas of the photoelectrode to reduce shadow losses. Full wave electromagnetic simulations of the prism array (PA) structure guide optimization of geometries and length scales. An integrated device is constructed with Ag catalyst prisms covering 35% of the surface area. The experimental device has close to 80% of the transmittance with a catalytic surface area equivalent 144% of the glass substrate area. Experimentally this photocathode demonstrates a direct solar-to-CO conversion efficiency of 5.9% with 50 h stability. Selective electrodeposition of Cu catalysts onto the surface of the Ag triangular prisms allows CO2 conversion to higher value products enabling demonstration of a solar-to-C2+ product efficiency of 3.1%. This design featuring structures that have a semitransparent catalyst layer on a PV-EC cell is a general solution to light loss by shadowing for front surface mounted metal catalysts, and opens a route for the development of artificial photosynthesis based on this scalable design approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2201062
JournalAdvanced energy materials
Issue number36
Early online date10 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2022


  • artificial photosynthesis
  • CO RR
  • front illumination
  • PV-EC
  • solar fuels
  • 22/3 OA procedure


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