Tandem Si Micropillar Array Photocathodes with Conformal Copper Oxide and a Protection Layer by Pulsed Laser Deposition

Pramod Patil Kunturu, Christos Zachariadis, Lukasz Witczak, Minh D. Nguyen, Guus Rijnders, Jurriaan Huskens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


This work demonstrates the influence of high-quality protection layers on Si-Cu2O micropillar arrays created by pulsed laser deposition (PLD), with the goal to overcome photodegradation and achieve long-term operation during photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. Sequentially, we assessed planar and micropillar device designs with various design parameters and their influence on PEC hydrogen evolution reaction. On the planar device substrates, a Cu2O film thickness of 600 nm and a Cu2O/CuO heterojunction layer with a 5:1 thickness ratio between Cu2O to CuO were found to be optimal. The planar Si/Cu2O/CuO heterostructure showed a higher PV performance (Jsc = 20 mA/cm2) as compared to the planar Si/Cu2O device, but micropillar devices did not show this improvement. Multifunctional overlayers of ZnO (25 nm) and TiO2 (100 nm) were employed by PLD on Si/Cu2O planar and micropillar arrays to provide a hole-selective passivation layer that acts against photocorrosion. A micropillar Si/ITO-Au/Cu2O/ZnO/TiO2/Pt stack was compared to a planar device. Under optimized conditions, the Si/Cu2O photocathode with Pt as a HER catalyst displayed a photocurrent of 7.5 mA cm-2 at 0 V vs RHE and an onset potential of 0.85 V vs RHE, with a stable operation for 75 h.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41402-41414
Number of pages13
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2019


  • copper oxide
  • hydrogen evolution reaction
  • pulse laser deposition
  • Si micropillar array
  • tandem photocathode


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