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Development of a-SiC Thin Film Photoelectrodes and Hybrid PV/a-SiC Devices for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting

  • J. Hu (a1), F. Zhu (a1), A. Kunrath (a1) and N. Gaillard (a2)

Abstract

In this communication, we report our efforts to develop amorphous silicon carbide (a-SiC) thin film photoelectrodes integrated with Si solar cells to form a monolithic, hybrid photovoltaic (PV)/a-SiC device capable of water splitting using sunlight as the only energy source. The main photoelectrochemical (PEC) properties of both the a-SiC photoelectrode and complete hybrid device fabricated by the plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) technique at low temperature (≤ 200°C) are discussed. The surface modification with metal nanoparticles, which is critical to PEC performances of the hybrid device, is also described. We show that, with the an a-SiC photoelectrode of p-i-n configuration and a high performance silicon heterojunction solar cell as driver, the photocurrent of the hybrid PV/a-SiC device has reached ∼5 mA/cm2. Additionally, the durability of such device has reached ∼800 hours in acidic electrolyte. Finally, we describe a roadmap for achieving the solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of >10% by optimizing the device configuration.

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