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Solution-Processed Metal Oxide Nanowire Mesh Electrodes for Efficient Solar Hydrogen Production from Water
Keywords: Solution Process, Nanowire, Solar Hydrogen Production
Solar energy is believed to be the ultimate energy source to meet the global energy demand due to the dramatic world population growth. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells harvest solar energy and convert it into hydrogen fuel through water splitting, a very promising sustainable clean and CO2-free energy solution that combines the energy harvesting and storage processes. Hydrogen fuel has higher energy density and zero carbon emission compared to hydrocarbons. It is broadly recognized that there is no single material that can meet all the requirements for efficient and durable solar hydrogen production. On the other hand, low-cost materials, facile and cost-effective fabrication techniques are necessary for practical solar hydrogen generation in large scales. In this talk, we report solution growth of earth-abundant, environmentally-benign metal oxide nanowire heterostructures grown on high-surface-area mesh substrates for cost-effective, high-efficiency, and scalable solar hydrogen production in a neutral solution. In particular, we present core/shell and branched nanowire heterojunctions made from different metal oxides such as Cu2O, CuO, ZnO, and TiO2. The integration of small and large bandgap metal oxide nanowires offers a unique combination of desired properties that are crucial to high-efficiency solar energy harvesting and hydrogen generation, including improved light absorption, enhanced charge separation/transportation/collection, increased reaction surface area, and improved gas evolution kinetics. Different characteristics of metal oxide nanowire heterostructure photoelectrodes, including morphology, atomic structure, PEC performances, solar conversion efficiency, and long-term stability are investigated in detail and will be presented. Our achieved results reveal a promising practical solution for high-efficiency, sustainable, clean solar hydrogen fuel generation using cheap, nontoxic materials synthesized with low-cost, facile and scalable fabrication processes.
Alireza Kargar, Graduate Student
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, California
USA


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