Special Issue "Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting"

A special issue of Applied Sciences (ISSN 2076-3417). This special issue belongs to the section "Nanotechnology and Applied Nanosciences".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 December 2018

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Ho Won Jang

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +82-2-880-1720
Fax: +82-2-884-1413
Interests: materials for solar water splitting, chemical sensors, meristors, plasmonics, metal-insulator transition, and ferroelectricity
Guest Editor
Dr. Uk Sim

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Chonnam National University, Gwangju, 61186, Republic of Korea
Website | E-Mail
Interests: solar-to-fuel production by photovoltaic/electrolysis or photoelectrochemical cell systems; multi-functional low-dimensional nanostructured materials; in situ surface/interface analysis during electrochemical reaction

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Development of sustainable energy sources is an imperative issue that must deal with the current and growing demand in terms of world energy consumption. Among the various types of sustainable energy sources, hydrogen is considered to be one of the most promising sources of renewable energy, and it has a high energy density. Hydrogen production via solar energy has been widely studied as an environmentally-friendly and sustainable source of energy. Considering the thermodynamic potential, a single-component semiconductor that possesses a higher band gap than 1.23 V can simultaneously generate hydrogen and oxygen gas from water. However, overall water splitting through a single-component conventional semiconductor is usually limited by kinetic overpotential. To solve this limiting factor, there is a need for the development of a comprehensive photocatalyst with distinctive features, such as nano-sized structures, surface functionalization, decoration with co-catalyst, etc. Numerous developments in photoelectrochemical cells have also been put into place in order to overcome the inherent weakness of one-component approaches. Photoelectrochemical cells are comprised of a separate cathode and anode, and can be easily implemented in terms of tenability and efficiency. Efficient nano-sized co-catalysts for water splitting also present one of the most important and challenging issues for the implementation of photoelectrochemical hydrogen production. Inherent discovery of an efficient catalytic nanomaterial would also constitute an important and challenging issue for the implementation of photoelectrochemical fuel production. A critical requirement for outstanding catalysts is, not only its ability to boost the kinetics of a chemical reaction, but also provide the necessary durability against electrochemical and photo-induced degradation. Generally, precious metals, such as platinum, exhibit superior performance under these requirements; however, the high cost of precious metals are another challenging barrier for their widespread commercial use. To address this critical and long-standing technical barrier, intense research efforts for developing an efficient, durable, and inexpensive alternative catalytic nanomaterial have been recommended, which comprises low-dimensional transitional metal dichalcogenide, carbon-based platforms, and earth-abundant nanomaterials.

The Special Issue of the journal Applied Sciences, “Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting”, aims to cover recent advances in the development of various kinds of nanomaterials related to photocatalyst, photoelectrode, and co-catalysts intended for solar-driven water splitting.

Prof. Dr. Ho Won Jang
Dr. Uk Sim
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Solar water splitting
  • Photoelectrochemical Cell
  • Photocatalyst
  • Catalyst
  • Hydrogen production
  • Photoelectrode
  • Solar-driven Fuel Production

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Photo-Assisted Hydrogen Evolution with Reduced Graphene Oxide Catalyst on Silicon Nanowire Photocathode
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(11), 2046; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8112046
Received: 17 September 2018 / Revised: 22 October 2018 / Accepted: 22 October 2018 / Published: 25 October 2018
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Abstract
The silicon-based photoelectrochemical (PEC) conversion system has recently gained attention owing to its ability to provide cost-efficient and superior photoresponsive behavior with respect to other semiconductor photoelectrodes. Carbon-based co-catalysts have always been the focus of research as alternative metal-free electrocatalysts intended for hydrogen
[...] Read more.
The silicon-based photoelectrochemical (PEC) conversion system has recently gained attention owing to its ability to provide cost-efficient and superior photoresponsive behavior with respect to other semiconductor photoelectrodes. Carbon-based co-catalysts have always been the focus of research as alternative metal-free electrocatalysts intended for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). In particular, reduced graphene oxide (rGO), a representative carbon-derived material, has attracted much attention as a non-metal catalyst for efficient and durable HER. Herein, we deposited rGO on a silicon nanowire (SiNW) structure, which showed the highest reduction in the overpotential for HER up to date. This can be attributed to the synergistic effects of rGO and SiNW with unique anisotropic morphology, facile tuning capabilities, and scalable fabrication methods. Combined with nanostructured photocathode, rGO-deposited SiNW showed better photon to current conversion efficiency of 3.16% (half solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency), which is 158 times higher than that of the bare planar Si system. In light of this development, we believe that rGO-SiNW photoelectrodes will pave the way for state-of-the-art highly efficient non-metal catalysts for energy conversion technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting)
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Open AccessArticle Triple Planar Heterojunction of SnO2/WO3/BiVO4 with Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Performance under Front Illumination
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(10), 1765; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8101765
Received: 31 July 2018 / Revised: 11 September 2018 / Accepted: 27 September 2018 / Published: 30 September 2018
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Abstract
The performance of a BiVO4 photoanode is limited by poor charge transport, especially under front side illumination. Heterojunction of different metal oxides with staggered band configuration is a promising route, as it facilitates charge separation/transport and thereby improves photoactivity. We report a
[...] Read more.
The performance of a BiVO4 photoanode is limited by poor charge transport, especially under front side illumination. Heterojunction of different metal oxides with staggered band configuration is a promising route, as it facilitates charge separation/transport and thereby improves photoactivity. We report a ternary planar heterojunction photoanode with enhanced photoactivity under front side illumination. SnO2/WO3/BiVO4 films were fabricated through electron beam deposition and subsequent wet chemical method. Remarkably high external quantum efficiency of ~80% during back side and ~90% upon front side illumination at a wavelength of 400 nm has been witnessed for SnO2/WO3/BiVO4 at 1.23 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE). The intimate contact between the heterojunction films enabled efficient charge separation at the interface and promoted electron transport. This work provides a new paradigm for designing triple heterojunction to improve photoactivity, particularly under front illumination, which would be beneficial for the development of tandem devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting)
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Graphical abstract

Open AccessFeature PaperCommunication Conformal Titanyl Phosphate Surface Passivation for Enhancing Photocatalytic Activity
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(8), 1402; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8081402
Received: 30 July 2018 / Revised: 15 August 2018 / Accepted: 17 August 2018 / Published: 19 August 2018
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Abstract
A conformal titanyl phosphate passivation with the thickness of ca. 5 nm on the surface of TiO2 nanoparticles for enhancing the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants and hydrogen production is described. The phosphate anion species bound to the surface of TiO2
[...] Read more.
A conformal titanyl phosphate passivation with the thickness of ca. 5 nm on the surface of TiO2 nanoparticles for enhancing the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants and hydrogen production is described. The phosphate anion species bound to the surface of TiO2 promote the favorable kinetics of photocatalytic activity and influence the catalytic reaction pathway. By using a facile surfactant-assisted sol-gel process, the surface defects of TiO2 associated with deep traps was reduced and passivated by the phosphate anion species to form the titanyl phosphate. The strong bonds between the titanyl phosphate shell and TiO2 core provided a long-term photochemical stability in aqueous electrolytes with enhanced photocatalytic activities. The titanyl phosphate contributed to the production and stabilization of hydroxyl radicals on the surface of photocatalyst, which facilitated the efficient photooxidation of the organic pollutants. Further, enhancing the photocatalytic hydrogen production was achieved by the titanyl phosphate modified TiO2 (TP-TiO2). Consequently, the conformal titanyl phosphate passivation enhanced photocatalytic activity of TiO2. Comparing to the bare TiO2 nanoparticles, approximately two-fold higher photocatalytic H2 production rate was achieved by the TP-TiO2. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Ferroelectric Materials: A Novel Pathway for Efficient Solar Water Splitting
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(9), 1526; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8091526
Received: 27 July 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 25 August 2018 / Published: 1 September 2018
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Abstract
Over the past few decades, solar water splitting has evolved into one of the most promising techniques for harvesting hydrogen using solar energy. Despite the high potential of this process for hydrogen production, many research groups have encountered significant challenges in the quest
[...] Read more.
Over the past few decades, solar water splitting has evolved into one of the most promising techniques for harvesting hydrogen using solar energy. Despite the high potential of this process for hydrogen production, many research groups have encountered significant challenges in the quest to achieve a high solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency. Recently, ferroelectric materials have attracted much attention as promising candidate materials for water splitting. These materials are among the best candidates for achieving water oxidation using solar energy. Moreover, their characteristics are changeable by atom substitute doping or the fabrication of a new complex structure. In this review, we describe solar water splitting technology via the solar-to-hydrogen conversion process. We will examine the challenges associated with this technology whereby ferroelectric materials are exploited to achieve a high solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting)
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview Photoelectrochemical Device Designs toward Practical Solar Water Splitting: A Review on the Recent Progress of BiVO4 and BiFeO3 Photoanodes
Appl. Sci. 2018, 8(8), 1388; https://doi.org/10.3390/app8081388
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 11 August 2018 / Accepted: 13 August 2018 / Published: 17 August 2018
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Abstract
Solar-driven water splitting technology is considered to be a promising solution for the global energy challenge as it is capable of generating clean chemical fuel from solar energy. Various strategies and catalytic materials have been explored in order to improve the efficiency of
[...] Read more.
Solar-driven water splitting technology is considered to be a promising solution for the global energy challenge as it is capable of generating clean chemical fuel from solar energy. Various strategies and catalytic materials have been explored in order to improve the efficiency of the water splitting reaction. Although significant progress has been made, there are many intriguing fundamental phenomena that need to be understood. Herein, we review recent experimental efforts to demonstrate enhancement strategies for efficient solar water splitting, especially for the light absorption, charge carrier separation, and water oxidation kinetics. We also focus on the state of the art of photoelectrochemical (PEC) device designs such as application of facet engineering and the development of a ferroelectric-coupled PEC device. Based on these experimental achievements, future challenges, and directions in solar water splitting technology will be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanomaterials for Solar Water Splitting)
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