Comparison between the measured and modeled hydrogen-evolution activity of Ni- or Pt-coated silicon photocathodes

Zhuangqun Huang, James R. McKone, Chengxiang Xiang, Ronald L. Grimm, Emily L. Warren, Joshua M. Spurgeon, Hans Joachim Lewerenz, Bruce S. Brunschwig, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The electrocatalytic behavior of Ni and Pt nanoparticles for the hydrogen-evolution reaction (HER) on p-type Si photocathodes was measured experimentally and the current density vs. potential (J-E) characteristics of a general metal catalyst on p-Si was modeled as a combination of a Si photodiode in series electrically with metal electrocatalysts. Relative to the rest potential, the J-E characteristics produced by the model showed an increase in total overpotential required to reach a specified current density for the metallized photoelectrodes relative to that of a metal electrode. This prediction was in accord with the experimentally observed behavior of Pt on p-Si, but was in contrast to the behavior observed for Ni on p-Si. Properly accounting for junction energetics and kinetics of the HER is critical to accurate predictions of the solar-to-hydrogen (STH) energy-conversion efficiency of metallized integrated photoelectrochemical systems. Further, models that accurately predict the performance of metal catalysts on semiconductor light absorbers are required to optimize the catalytic performance of metallized photoelectrodes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16220-16226
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - Sep 23 2014


  • HER
  • Interface
  • Photocatalysis
  • Photoelectrochemistry
  • Silicon
  • Solar fuels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology

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