Design principles for maximizing photovoltage in metal-oxide-protected water-splitting photoanodes

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Scheuermann, Andrew G.
Lawrence, John P.
Kemp, Kyle W.
Ito, T.
Walsh, Adrian
Chidsey, Christopher E. D.
Hurley, Paul K.
McIntyre, Paul C.
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Nature Publishing Group
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Metal oxide protection layers for photoanodes may enable the development of large-scale solar fuel and solar chemical synthesis, but the poor photovoltages often reported so far will severely limit their performance. Here we report a novel observation of photovoltage loss associated with a charge extraction barrier imposed by the protection layer, and, by eliminating it, achieve photovoltages as high as 630mV, the maximum reported so far for water-splitting silicon photoanodes. The loss mechanism is systematically probed in metal-insulator-semiconductor Schottky junction cells compared to buried junction p(+) n cells, revealing the need to maintain a characteristic hole density at the semiconductor/insulator interface. A leaky-capacitor model related to the dielectric properties of the protective oxide explains this loss, achieving excellent agreement with the data. From these findings, we formulate design principles for simultaneous optimization of built-in field, interface quality, and hole extraction to maximize the photovoltage of oxide-protected water-splitting anodes.
Open-circuit voltage , Silicon solar-cells , Photoelectrochemical cells , Oxidation , Layer , Efficient , TiO2 , Performance , Conversion , Thickness
Scheuermann, Andrew G.; Lawrence, John P.; Kemp, Kyle W.; Ito, T.; Walsh, Adrian; Chidsey, Christopher E. D.; Hurley, Paul K.; McIntyre, Paul C. (2016) 'Design principles for maximizing photovoltage in metal-oxide-protected water-splitting photoanodes'. Nature Materials, 15, 99-105. doi: 10.1038/NMAT4451