A new semiconductor for the photolysis of water

January 5, 2023

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new type of solar panel for photolytic splitting of water achieving an efficiency of 9%. The study was published on Nature: Solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of more than 9% in photo-catalytic water splitting (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05399-1).
This result was achieved using a catalyst formed by nanostructures of indium and gallium nitride, grown on a silicon surface. This made it possible to obtain a semiconductor capable of withstanding a concentration factor of 160 suns. This concentration of sunlight, obtained by means of a special large lens, allows to reduce the size of the expensive semiconductor.
The temperature of the panel is maintained at 75 °C by means of an insulating layer and this temperature is high enough to favour the reaction without penalizing the behaviour of the semiconductor.
An efficiency of more than 9% was achieved in the laboratory, while outdoors and in sunlight it was not possible to exceed 6.1%.

Source: University of Michigan