Photoelectrochemical water splitting using strain-balanced multiple quantum well photovoltaic cells
Starting from the classical GaInP/GaAs tandem photoelectrochemical water splitting device, higher solar-to-hydrogen efficiencies can be pursued by extending photon absorption to longer wavelengths. We incorporate strain-balanced GaInAs/GaAsP quantum wells into the bottom GaAs junction, to increase the range of photon absorption. The inclusion of 1.34 eV quantum wells in the depletion region of the bottom cell extends the absorption edge to 930 nm. With a corresponding increase in the thickness of the top cell for current matching, the light-limiting photocurrent increases by >8%. The estimated solar-to-hydrogen efficiency is 13.6 ± 0.5%, and we show a pathway to further improvement. With the semiconductor device remaining on the growth substrate, this quantum well architecture may enable improved stability and durability of the photoelectrochemical electrodes.