Silicon and tungsten oxide nanostructures for water splitting

Karla R.Reyes Gil, Joshua M. Spurgeon, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)


Inorganic semiconductors are promising materials for driving photoelectrochemical water-splitting reactions. However, there is not a single semiconductor material that can sustain the unassisted splitting of water into H2 and O2. Instead, we are developing a three part cell design where individual catalysts for water reduction and oxidation will be attached to the ends of a membrane. The job of splitting water is therefore divided into separate reduction and oxidation reactions, and each catalyst can be optimized independently for a single reaction. Silicon might be suitable to drive the water reduction. Inexpensive highly ordered Si wire arrays were grown on a single crystal wafer and transferred into a transparent, flexible polymer matrix. In this array, light would be absorbed along the longer axial dimension while the resulting electrons or holes would be collected along the much shorter radial dimension in a massively parallel array resembling carpet fibers on a microscale, hence the term "solar carpet". Tungsten oxide is a good candidate to drive the water oxidation. Self-organized porous tungsten oxide was successfully synthesized on the tungsten foil by anodization. This sponge-like structure absorbs light efficiently due to its high surface area; hence we called it "solar sponge".

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSolar Hydrogen and Nanotechnology IV
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventSolar Hydrogen and Nanotechnology IV - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 3 2009Aug 6 2009

Publication series

NameProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
ISSN (Print)0277-786X


OtherSolar Hydrogen and Nanotechnology IV
CountryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA


  • Hydrogen production
  • Membrane
  • Semiconductor
  • Silicon
  • Solar cell
  • Tungsten oxide
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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