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Experimental demonstrations of spontaneous, solar-driven photoelectrochemical water splitting

Ager, Joel W. and Shaner, Matthew R. and Walczak, Karl A. and Sharp, Ian D. and Ardo, Shane (2015) Experimental demonstrations of spontaneous, solar-driven photoelectrochemical water splitting. Energy and Environmental Science, 8 (10). pp. 2811-2824. ISSN 1754-5692. doi:10.1039/c5ee00457h.

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Laboratory demonstrations of spontaneous photoelectrochemical (PEC) solar water splitting cells are reviewed. Reported solar-to-hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiencies range from <1% to 18%. The demonstrations are categorized by the number of photovoltaic junctions employed (2 or 3), photovoltaic junction type (solid–solid or solid–liquid) and the ability of the systems to produce separated reaction product streams. Demonstrations employing two photovoltaic (PV) junctions have the highest reported efficiencies of 12.4% and 18%, which are for cells that, respectively, do and do not contain a semiconductor–liquid junction. These devices used PV components based on III–V semiconductors; recently, a number of demonstrations with >10% STH efficiency using potentially less costly materials have been reported. Device stability is a major challenge for the field, as evidenced by lifetimes of less than 24 hours in all but a few reports. No globally accepted protocol for evaluating and certifying STH efficiencies and lifetimes exists. It is our recommendation that a protocol similar to that used by the photovoltaic community be adopted so that future demonstrations of solar PEC water splitting can be compared on equal grounds.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Ager, Joel W.0000-0001-9334-9751
Shaner, Matthew R.0000-0003-4682-9757
Sharp, Ian D.0000-0001-5238-7487
Ardo, Shane0000-0001-7162-6826
Additional Information:© 2015 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 10 Feb 2015, Accepted 24 Mar 2015; First published online 24 Mar 2015. The authors thank Dr Eric Miller for the inspiration to compile this review, and the members of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Photoelectrochemical Working Group and Task 35 (Renewable Hydrogen) of the International Energy Agency’s Hydrogen Implementing Agreement for helpful comments, suggestions, and discussions, especially Heli Wang, Keith Emery, and Tom Jaramillo. JWA, KAW, IDS, and MS were supported by the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, supported through the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy under Award Number DE-SC0004993. SA acknowledges support from the Department of Chemistry and the School of Physical Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. MS acknowledges the Resnick Institute for Sustainability for a graduate fellowship. A summary version of this review paper (DOI: 10.2172/1209500) can be found on the working group website The STH efficiency tables and graph will be updated as the field progresses.
Group:Resnick Sustainability Institute, JCAP
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0004993
University of California, IrvineUNSPECIFIED
Resnick Sustainability InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:10
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20151029-125838701
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:61715
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Oct 2015 23:50
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 22:53

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