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Water photolysis at 12.3% efficiency via perovskite photovoltaics and Earth-abundant catalysts

Science  26 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6204, pp. 1593-1596
DOI: 10.1126/science.1258307

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The power of a pair of perovskites

In the past several years, perovskite solar cells have emerged as a low-cost experimental alternative to more traditional silicon devices. Luo et al. now show that a pair of perovskite cells connected in series can power the electrochemical breakdown of water into hydrogen and oxygen efficiently (see the Perspective by Hamann). Hydrogen generation from water is being actively studied as a supplement in solar power generation to smooth out the fluctuations due to variations in sunlight.

Science, this issue p. 1593; see also p. 1566

Abstract

Although sunlight-driven water splitting is a promising route to sustainable hydrogen fuel production, widespread implementation is hampered by the expense of the necessary photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical apparatus. Here, we describe a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining a state-of-the-art solution-processed perovskite tandem solar cell and a bifunctional Earth-abundant catalyst. The catalyst electrode, a NiFe layered double hydroxide, exhibits high activity toward both the oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions in alkaline electrolyte. The combination of the two yields a water-splitting photocurrent density of around 10 milliamperes per square centimeter, corresponding to a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%. Currently, the perovskite instability limits the cell lifetime.

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