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The construction of viable photoelectrochemical (PEC) devices for solar-driven water splitting can be achieved by first identifying an efficient independent photoanode for water oxidation and a photocathode for hydrogen generation. These two photoelectrodes then must be assembled with a proton exchange membrane within a complete coupled system. Here we report the preparation of a Si/a-CoMoSx hybrid photocathode which shows impressive performance (onset potential of 0.25 V vs. RHE and photocurrent jsc of 17.5 mA cm-2 at 0 V vs. RHE) in pH 4.25 phosphate solution and under simulated AM 1.5 solar illumination. This performance is among the best reported for Si photocathodes decorated with noble-metal-free catalysts. The electrode preparation is scalable because it relies on a photo-assisted electrodeposition process employing available p-type Si electrode and [Co(MoS4)2]2- precursor. Investigation of the mechanism of the Si/a-CoMoSx electrode revealed that under conditions of H2 photogeneration this bimetallic sulfide catalyst is highly efficient in extracting electrons from illuminated Si and subsequently in reducing protons into H2. The Si/a-CoMoSx photocathode is functional over a wide range of pHs, thus making it as a promising candidate for the construction of complete solar-driven water splitting PEC device.
PMID: 25801437 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]