Photoelectrochemical water splitting is a promising method to produce H2 by making use of solar energy. In this paper we report on a photocathode made by p-type crystalline Si covered with an n-type 3C-SiC polycrystalline film, acting as protective layer and transparent emitter.
The photoelectrodes exhibit a saturated photocurrent above 30 mA cm−2. No decay is observed after 9 h under constant current stress at 1 kW m−2 with AM1.5G spectrum illumination. Improvement of the photocurrent value is achieved by covering the 3C-SiC emitter with Au or Pt nanoparticles.
Under suitable metal nanoparticles deposition conditions, compared to the samples without nanoparticles, two major effects are observed: first the onset potential is considerably reduced, and second, higher saturated photocurrent is found, up to 38 mA cm−2, i.e. with a 27% increase. Optical and micro-structural studies on the nanoparticles provide insights on the origin of the observed effects.
Han, T., Privitera, S., Milazzo, R.G., Bongiorno, C., Di Franco, S., La Via, F., Song, X., Shi, Y., Lanza, M. and Lombardo, S., 2017. Photo-electrochemical water splitting in silicon based photocathodes enhanced by plasmonic/catalytic nanostructures. Materials Science and Engineering: B, 225, pp.128-133.
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