Brought together through the HydroGEN consortium, scientists at the University of Michigan, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory have described the chemical mechanisms behind curiously resilient photocathodes made from silicon and gallium nitride (Si/GaN).
As reported in a Nature Materials article, Si/GaN photocathodes become more durable as they use sunlight to convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, exhibiting "photoelectrochemically self-improving behaviour" that is extraordinary in artificial photosynthesis devices, which often degrade over time. The work could help improve the durability and cost of renewable hydrogen production technologies.
"The collaboration that drove this exciting discovery is precisely why HydroGEN was formed," said Huyen Dinh, HydroGEN director and senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). "It brings together the best minds and capabilities of national labs and research partners to revolutionize how carbon-free hydrogen is made."
Data supporting the research is available in the HydroGEN Data Hub, a public, searchable repository of consortium data curated and maintained by a team at NREL. These latest findings add to a growing library of advances in hydrogen materials science, supported with a suite of research capabilities unique to HydroGEN.