A monolithically integrated, intrinsically safe, 10% efficient, solar-driven water-splitting system based on active, stable earth-abundant electrocatalysts in conjunction with tandem III–V light absorbers protected by amorphous TiO2 films†
A monolithically integrated device consisting of a tandem-junction GaAs/InGaP photoanode coated by an amorphous TiO2 stabilization layer, in conjunction with Ni-based, earth-abundant active electrocatalysts for the hydrogen-evolution and oxygen-evolution reactions, was used to effect unassisted, solar-driven water splitting in 1.0 M KOH(aq). When connected to a Ni–Mo-coated counterelectrode in a two-electrode cell configuration, the TiO2-protected III–V tandem device exhibited a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency, ηSTH, of 10.5% under 1 sun illumination, with stable performance for >40 h of continuous operation at an efficiency of ηSTH > 10%. The protected tandem device also formed the basis for a monolithically integrated, intrinsically safe solar-hydrogen prototype system (1 cm2) driven by a NiMo/GaAs/InGaP/TiO2/Ni structure. The intrinsically safe system exhibited a hydrogen production rate of 0.81 μL s−1 and a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 8.6% under 1 sun illumination in 1.0 M KOH(aq), with minimal product gas crossover while allowing for beneficial collection of separate streams of H2(g) and O2(g).