An In0.42Ga0.58N tunnel junction nanowire photocathode monolithically integrated on a nonplanar Si wafer

TitleAn In0.42Ga0.58N tunnel junction nanowire photocathode monolithically integrated on a nonplanar Si wafer
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWang Y, Vanka S, Gim J, Wu Y, Fan R, Zhang Y, Shi J, Shen M, Hovden R, Mi Z
JournalNano Energy

Published on March 1st, 2019. Group III-nitride semiconductors exhibit many ideal characteristics for solar water splitting, including a tunable energy bandgap across nearly the entire solar spectrum and suitable band edge positions for water oxidation and proton reduction under visible and near-infrared light irradiation. To date, however, the best reported energy conversion efficiency for III-nitride semiconductor photocathodes is still below 1%. Here we report on the demonstration of a relatively efficient p-type In0.42Ga0.58N photocathode, which is monolithically integrated on an n-type nonplanar Si wafer through a GaN nanowire tunnel junction. The open pillar design, together with the nonplanar Si wafer can significantly maximize light trapping, whereas the tunnel junction reduces the interfacial resistance and enhances the extraction of photo-generated electrons. In addition, photodeposited Pt nanoparticles on InGaN nanowire surfaces significantly improve the cathodic performance. The nanowire photocathode exhibits a photocurrent density of 12.3 mA cm−2 at 0 V vs. RHE and an onset potential of 0.79 V vs. RHE under AM 1.5 G one-sun illumination. The maximum applied bias photon-to-current efficiency reaches 4% at ~0.52 V vs. RHE, which is one order of magnitude higher than the previously reported values for III-nitride photocathodes. Significantly, no performance degradation was measured for over 30 h solar water splitting with a steady photocurrent density ~12 mA cm−2 without using any extra surface protection, which is attributed to the spontaneous formation of N-terminated surfaces of InGaN nanowires to protect against photocorrosion.