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Neutral Water Splitting Catalysis with a High FF Triple Junction Polymer Cell

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ICFO-Institut de Ciències Fotòniques, The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, 08860 Castelldefels, Barcelona, Spain
Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ), The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Avinguda Països Catalans 16, 43007 Tarragona, Spain
§ Departament de Física, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 08222 Terrassa, Spain
Departament de Química, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), 08193 Cerdanyola del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain
Cite this: ACS Catal. 2016, 6, 5, 3310–3316
Publication Date (Web):April 15, 2016
https://doi.org/10.1021/acscatal.6b01036
Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society
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Abstract

We report a photovoltaics-electrochemical (PV-EC) assembly based on a compact and easily processable triple homojunction polymer cell with high fill factor (76%), optimized conversion efficiencies up to 8.7%, and enough potential for the energetically demanding water splitting reaction (Voc = 2.1 V). A platinum-free cathode made of abundant materials is coupled to a ruthenium oxide on glassy carbon anode (GC-RuO2) to perform the reaction at optimum potential (ΔE = 1.70–1.78 V, overpotential = 470–550 mV). The GC-RuO2 anode contains a single monolayer of catalyst corresponding to a superficial concentration (Γ) of 0.15 nmol cm—2 and is highly active at pH 7. The PV-EC cell achieves solar to hydrogen conversion efficiencies (STH) ranging from 5.6 to 6.0%. As a result of the solar cell’s high fill factor, the optimal photovoltaic response is found at 1.70 V, the minimum potential at which the electrodes used perform the water splitting reaction. This allows generating hydrogen at efficiencies that would be very similar (96%) to those obtained as if the system were to be operating at 1.23 V, the thermodynamic potential threshold for the water splitting reaction.

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The Supporting Information is available free of charge on the ACS Publications website at DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.6b01036.

  • Details about the equipment, materials and methods; cathode and anode preparations; and additional chronopotentiometry and water splitting experiments (PDF)

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