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Addressing the Stability Gap in Photoelectrochemistry: Molybdenum Disulfide Protective Catalysts for Tandem III–V Unassisted Solar Water Splitting

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journal contribution
posted on 30.07.2020, 19:36 by Micha Ben-Naim, Reuben J. Britto, Chase W. Aldridge, Rachel Mow, Myles A. Steiner, Adam C. Nielander, Laurie A. King, Daniel J. Friedman, Todd G. Deutsch, James L. Young, Thomas F. Jaramillo
While photoelectrochemical (PEC) solar-to-hydrogen efficiencies have greatly improved over the past few decades, advances in PEC durability have lagged behind. Corrosion of semiconductor photoabsorbers in the aqueous conditions needed for water splitting is a major challenge that limits device stability. In addition, a precious-metal catalyst is often required to efficiently promote water splitting. Herein, we demonstrate unassisted water splitting using a nonprecious metal molybdenum disulfide nanomaterial catalytic protection layer paired with a GaInAsP/GaAs tandem device. This device was able to achieve stable unassisted water splitting for nearly 12 h, while a sibling sample with a PtRu catalyst was only stable for 2 h, highlighting the advantage of the nonprecious metal catalyst. In situ optical imaging illustrates the progression of macroscopic degradation that causes device failure. In addition, this work compares unassisted water splitting devices across the field in terms of the efficiency and stability, illustrating the need for improved stability.