Production of chemical fuels by direct solar energy conversion in a photoelectrochemical cell is of great practical interest for developing a sustainable energy system. Various nanoscale designs such as nanowires, nanotubes, heterostructures and nanocomposites have been explored to increase the energy conversion efficiency of photoelectrochemical water splitting. Here we demonstrate a self-organized nanocomposite material concept for enhancing the efficiency of photocarrier separation and electrochemical energy conversion. Mechanically robust photoelectrodes are formed by embedding self-assembled metal nanopillars in a semiconductor thin film, forming tubular Schottky junctions around each pillar. The photocarrier transport efficiency is strongly enhanced in the Schottky space charge regions while the pillars provide an efficient charge extraction path. Ir-doped SrTiO 3 with embedded iridium metal nanopillars shows good operational stability in a water oxidation reaction and achieves over 80% utilization of photogenerated carriers under visible light in the 400- to 600-nm wavelength range.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)