Enabling silicon for Solar-Fuel production

Ke Sun, Shaohua Shen, Yongqi Liang, Paul E. Burrows, Samuel S. Mao, Deli Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

321 Scopus citations


Silicon is widely used for photovoltaic applications, due to its superior advantages of low cost and narrow band gap matched to the solar spectrum. It is therefore a perfect candidate for the bottom cell of a tandem design. The thermodynamic and kinetic problems of Si in aqueous solution are considered as the major issues to solve in order to apply it to photoelectrochemical solar-fuel conversion. Surface alteration techniques are important for overcoming these intrinsic drawbacks. An ideal coating should satisfy the BORSA criteria, providing a strong built-in asymmetry, proper optical modulation, minimum resistance losses, chemical stability, and high activity toward the desired reactions. Hybrid configurations, by integrating a molecular sensitized solar cell, a solid-state/quantum dots sensitized solar cell, or an organic solar cell with a Si photocathode or Si photoanode, could be one of the alternative approaches for system integration, depending on the band gap of the water oxidation and water reduction components. In addition, cost-effective fabrication processes like inkjet printing and sol-gel processing as well as screening novel electrocatalysts through compositional and structural modification have been developed and are promising paths for development. Computational screening together with a combinatorial experimental verification provides an effective way to successfully identify novel, extremely durable, and selective photocatalysts and electrocatalysts with high activities.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)8662-8719
Number of pages58
JournalChemical Reviews
Issue number17
StatePublished - 10 Sep 2014


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