Experimental Validation of Designed Photocatalysts For Solar Water Splitting

Recipient Penn State University (PI: Ismaila Dabo and Raymond E. Schaak)

Subs Cornell University (PI: Héctor D. Abruña)

HydroGEN Node Experts

National Renewable Energy Laboratory:

  • Todd Deutsch
  • James Young

Water Splitting Technology PEC

Status Awarded

Abstract This NSF DMREF project is an integrated effort (i.e. theory/computation/experiment) to contribute to the field of solar fuels via photocatalytic water splitting. This joint effort with HydroGEN Energy Materials Network would benefit the DOE-EERE by augmenting the portfolio of water-splitting candidate materials and increasing awareness within the academic community of the opportunities, challenges, and technical targets for solar hydrogen production that have been established by the DOE. Based on a novel computational approach, Penn State Dabo’s research group has been able to provide preliminary data on the band-gap energy and energy band alignments of a series of potential semiconductor water splitting photocatalysts. However, it is known that computational calculations can typically underestimate the magnitude of the bandgap making the positions of the predicted valence and conduction band edges unreliable. To validate these computational predictions, we envision experimental characterization on the samples, synthesized by Schaak’s research group. This proposed collaboration with HydroGEN would accelerate our efforts towards this goal, and towards finding promising water splitting photocatalyst materials. This collaboration would leverage the expertise and capabilities of NREL’s photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting nodes, which are part of the DOE HydroGEN EMN consortium. The DMREF team will also benefit from NREL’s willingness to provide practical training to a member of the DMREF project, and thus improve the team’s proficiency in characterizing the materials designed and synthesized at the partner institution.