Stabilizing efficient photoabsorbers for solar water splitting has recently shown significant progress with the development of various protection layers. Suitable protection layers for tandem devices should be conductive, transparent, and stable in strongly acidic or alkaline solutions. This paper shows that under certain conditions n-type semiconductors, such as TiO2, can be used as protection layers for Si-based photoanodes. It also provides evidence that even in a photoanode assembly TiO2 is conducting only electrons (not holes as in p-type protection layers), and therefore TiO2 can be described as a simple ohmic contact. This renders n-type semiconductors, such as TiO2, to be versatile and simple protection layers, which can be used for photoanodes and as previously shown for photocathodes. The ohmic behavior of n-type TiO2 in a Si/TiO2-photoanode assembly is demonstrated under dark and illuminated conditions by performing the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and using the Fe(II)/Fe(III) redox couple. These measurements reveal that the performance of the Si/TiO2-photoanode assembly is strongly dependent on the TiO2/electrolyte interaction. Finally, the conditions and requirements that make TiO2 generally applicable for photoanode assemblies, and thus for protecting tandem devices, are outlined and quantitatively shown by band diagram calculations. The results presented here provide the understanding required for the design of highly efficient and stable photoelectrochemical water splitting devices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films