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Issue 6, 2016
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Hybrid organic–inorganic H2-evolving photocathodes: understanding the route towards high performance organic photoelectrochemical water splitting

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Abstract

A promising, yet challenging, route towards renewable production of hydrogen is the direct conversion of solar energy at a simple and low cost semiconductor/water junction. Despite the theoretical simplicity of such a photoelectrochemical device, different limitations among candidate semiconductor materials have hindered its development. After many decades of research on inorganic semiconductors, a conclusive solution still appears out of reach. Here, we report an efficient hybrid organic–inorganic H2 evolving photocathode, consisting of a donor/acceptor blend sandwiched between charge-selective layers and a thin electrocatalyst layer. The role and stability of the different interfaces are investigated, and the conductive polymer is proven to be an efficient material for a semiconductor/liquid PEC junction. The best performing electrodes show high performances with a photocurrent of 3 mA cm−2 at 0 V vs. RHE, optimal process stability with 100% faradaic efficiency during electrode's lifetime, excellent energetics with +0.67 V vs. RHE onset potential, promising operational activity of several hours and by-design compatibility for implementation in a tandem architecture. This work demonstrates organic semiconductors as a radically new option for efficient direct conversion of solar energy into fuels, and points out the route towards high performance organic photoelectrochemical water splitting.

Graphical abstract: Hybrid organic–inorganic H2-evolving photocathodes: understanding the route towards high performance organic photoelectrochemical water splitting

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Publication details

The article was received on 17 Nov 2015, accepted on 24 Dec 2015 and first published on 24 Dec 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5TA09330A
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Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2016,4, 2178-2187
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    Hybrid organic–inorganic H2-evolving photocathodes: understanding the route towards high performance organic photoelectrochemical water splitting

    F. Fumagalli, S. Bellani, M. Schreier, S. Leonardi, H. C. Rojas, A. Ghadirzadeh, G. Tullii, A. Savoini, G. Marra, L. Meda, M. Grätzel, G. Lanzani, M. T. Mayer, M. R. Antognazza and F. Di Fonzo, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2016, 4, 2178
    DOI: 10.1039/C5TA09330A

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