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Hydrogen

Improving Efficiency, Durability and Cost-effectiveness of III-V Semiconductors for Direct Water Electrolysis

  • $1.23m

    ARENA Funding

  • $3.45m

    Total Project Value

  • Project basics

    ARENA Program

    Advancing renewables

    Lead Organisation

    Australian National University (ANU)

    Start Date

    Aug 2018

    Project Partners

    MicroLink Devices Inc., University of Michigan

    Location

    Australian Capital Territory

    Status

    Current

Project Basics

ARENA Program

Advancing renewables

Lead Organisation

Australian National University (ANU)

Start Date

Aug 2018

Project Partners

MicroLink Devices Inc., University of Michigan

Location

Australian Capital Territory

Status

Current

Summary

This project aims to demonstrate a photo electrochemical system using III-V multi-junction semiconductors through cost-effective epitaxial lift-off techniques that are surface modified for robust operation.

How the project works

Direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion presents the most promising technique for achieving both high efficiency and lower costs by eliminating various efficiency loss mechanisms and reducing capital expenditure. ANU will work with MicroLink Devices Inc. and the University of Michigan combining their world leading expertise in epitaxial lift-off and semiconductor photocatalysis, respectively, with III-V semiconductor epitaxial growth expertise of ANU.

Area of innovation

Photoelectrochemical solar water splitting via III-V multi-junction semiconductors is proven to be the most efficient way of producing hydrogen directly from sunlight, but they suffer from high material costs and photodegradation. This project aims to tackle these issues by (i) designing appropriate III-V material structures to maximise photocurrents and generate the necessary photovoltage, (ii) developing thin-film tandem structures allowing the reuse of substrate wafers, (iii) achieving effective surface stabilisation and catalyst functionalisation for robust operation, and (iv) demonstrating a high-efficiency direct water splitting system with long-term stability.

Benefit

This project focusses on developing material technologies for the direct production of gaseous hydrogen using sunlight. Efficiency and cost are major factors in the creation of overall renewable energy export supply chain. This project aims to address both these barriers. First, tandem III-V semiconductors to be developed in this work are expected to enable high STH conversion efficiencies. Second, this project will address the high capital costs associated with III-V materials by employing novel techniques for the development of thin-film III-V tandem materials for the direct production of hydrogen from solar energy.

Contact information

Chennupati Jagadish

Chennupati.Jagadish@anu.edu.au