Solar-assisted water splitting can potentially provide an efficient route for large-scale renewable energy conversion and storage. It is essential for such a system to provide a sufficiently high photocurrent and photovoltage to drive the water oxidation reaction. Here we demonstrate a photoanode that is capable of achieving a high photovoltage by engineering the interfacial energetics of metal–insulator–semiconductor junctions. We evaluate the importance of using two metals to decouple the functionalities for a Schottky contact and a highly efficient catalyst. We also illustrate the improvement of the photovoltage upon incidental oxidation of the metallic surface layer in KOH solution. Additionally, we analyse the role of the thin insulating layer to the pinning and depinning of Fermi level that is responsible to the resulting photovoltage. Finally, we report the advantage of using dual metal overlayers as a simple protection route for highly efficient metal–insulator–semiconductor photoanodes by showing over 200 h of operational stability.

NPG
ERC , NWO
dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms15968
Nature Commun.
LMPV
Nanoscale Solar Cells

Digdaya, I.A, Adhyaksa, G.W.P, Trzesniewski, B.J, Garnett, E.C, & Smith, W.A. (2017). Interfacial engineering of metal-insulator-semiconductor junctions for efficient and stable photoelectrochemical water oxidation. Nature Commun., 8(Article number: 15968), 1–8. doi:10.1038/ncomms15968