Scientific Achievement

Investigated methods of improving control over carrier dynamics using light. Light was used to control electrolyzer current independent of applied cell voltage, using the properties of semiconductor-liquid junctions (SLJs). Concept and approaches took inspiration from the properties of biological electron tunneling.

Significance and Impact

This work suggests a new use case for electrochemical semiconductor-liquid junctions – as ways of partitioning control over applied potentials and electrode currents. This enables exploration of how their independent control impacts our ability to steer product distributions in electrochemical devices.

Research Details

  • Rates of carrier production were controlled using a silicon photoanode.
  • Explored how shifts in CO/H2 product distribution changed at a single applied potential and variable current density.
  • Additional voltage sense contacts enabled simultaneous monitoring of changes in floating junction potential during device operation.
  • Genuine SLJs rather than buried junctions found to be essential.

Publication Details

Agbo, P. An Expansion of Polarization Control Using Semiconductor–Liquid Junctions. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2024, 1135–1142.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.3c03051

Supported by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences’ Fuels from Sunlight Hub under Award Number DE-SC0021266