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Photon Management for Near-Total Solar Absorption in Hematite Photoanodes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2014

Ken Xingze Wang
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
Zongfu Yu
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
Victor Liu
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
Mark L. Brongersma
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
Thomas F. Jaramillo
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
Shanhui Fan
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, U.S.A.
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Using first-principles full-field electromagnetic simulations, we demonstrate that near-perfect above-band-gap solar absorption can be achieved in nanostructured, ultra-thin-film iron oxide photoanodes for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. In our designed core-shell nanocone structures, all regions of hematite (α-iron oxide) are away from the interface between hematite and water by a minimum distance of less than the hole diffusion length in hematite, which is assumed to be no greater than 20nm. The optical absorption in our structure corresponds to a photocurrent density of 12.5mA/cm2 if one assumes an air mass 1.5 solar spectrum and a unity absorbed photon-to-current efficiency (APCE) for all wavelengths in that spectrum. Our photon management strategy eliminates the trade-off between optical absorption and carrier collection as commonly found in conventional designs of PEC cells, and variants of the strategy are generally applicable to other material systems.

Copyright © Materials Research Society 2014 

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