Unbiased, complete solar charging of a neutral flow battery by a single Si photocathode†
Solar redox flow batteries have attracted attention as a possible integrated technology for simultaneous conversion and storage of solar energy. In this work, we review current efforts to design aqueous solar flow batteries in terms of battery electrolyte capacity, solar conversion efficiency and depth of solar charge. From a materials cost and design perspective, a simple, cost-efficient, aqueous solar redox flow battery will most likely incorporate only one semiconductor, and we demonstrate here a system where a single photocathode is accurately matched to the redox couples to allow for a complete solar charge. The single TiO2 protected Si photocathode with a catalytic Pt layer can fully solar charge a neutral TEMPO-sulfate/ferricyanide battery with a cell voltage of 0.35 V. An unbiased solar conversion efficiency of 1.6% is obtained and this system represents a new strategy in solar RFBs where a single silicon photocathode is paired with energetically suitable redox couples to build an integrated solar energy conversion and storage device with full realization of the energy storage capacity.