Enabling Solar Hydrogen Production over Selenium: Surface State Passivation and Cocatalyst Decoration

Jiahui Li, Deng Li, Fei Gao, Yu Han, Junqing Yan, Shengzhong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


As the first material ever used in a solid-state solar cell, selenium (Se) has outstanding merits of light absorption, carrier mobility, intrinsic environmental stability, and straightforward film preparation, making it an attractive light-absorbing semiconductor for photovoltaic applications. However, the exploration of selenium for photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells remains vastly unreported. Here, we successfully enable selenium as an absorber in the photocathode for solar hydrogen production. A rapid thermal annealing process is adopted to prepare a tetragonal Se film with a preferred [100] orientation. Using a thin layer of TiO2buffer and platinum decoration, a photocurrent density up to −7.2 mA/cm2is achieved over the optimal Se/TiO2/Pt photocathode at 0 VRHEunder simulated one sun illumination. The roles of surface state passivation by TiO2and cocatalyst decoration by Pt in charge separation and transfer were thoroughly investigated by capacitance-voltage profiling, photoassisted Kelvin probe force microscopy, photoelectrochemical impedance spectroscopy, and also transient photovoltage decay. Our work provides Se as a promising candidate for solar hydrogen production and also highlights the effectiveness of surface state passivation and cocatalyst decoration in the fabrication of efficient PEC devices.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9923-9931
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2023-09-21

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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