Photoelectrochemical Working Group

Promising PEC Materials

The PEC Working Group invites the international research community to assist in the development of PEC Materials White Papers to track the research status of the most promising materials classes for solar water splitting.

The Photoelectrochemical Working Group meets regularly to review technical progress, develop synergies, and collaboratively develop common tools and processes for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. Its members include principal investigators and supporting personnel from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded photoelectrochemical projects. More information on planned DOE photoelectrochemical activities can be found in the Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan.

Photo of hydrogen beam generated from PV cell

Another promising option for the long term is photoelectrolysis. Here, light shining on a photoelectrochemical cell immersed in water produces bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen.
Credit: Richard Peterson

Research Description

In photoelectrochemical water splitting, specialized semiconductors called photoelectrochemical materials use water and sunlight to produce hydrogen from water. The semiconductor uses light energy to dissociate water molecules directly into hydrogen and oxygen. Different semiconductor materials work at different wavelengths of light and energy.

The Photoelectrochemical Working Group focuses on finding semiconductors that have the correct energies to split water while remaining stable when in contact with it.

Technical Targets for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting

The Department of Energy has developed a set of technical and cost targets for photoelectrochemical water splitting. These targets are contained in the Hydrogen Production section of the Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan. The Photoelectrochemical Working Group has been instrumental in the development of the boundary level technoeconomic analysis essential for establishing these targets.

Research Standards Development

The Photoelectrochemical Working Group has worked with the scientific community to develop standardized methods for photoelectrochemical research related to hydrogen production. This effort has paved the way to identifying superior research practices and accelerating their common use.

The goal is to establish acceptable photoelectrochemical research techniques and definitions related to hydrogen production so scientists throughout the world can exchange meaningful information and compare pertinent material performance. Successful outcomes to date from this collaborative effort have included a journal article and a reference book on standardized methods and protocols for PEC materials R&D.

PEC Materials White Papers

The Photoelectrochemical Working Group continues to work with experts from the international PEC research community to develop informative PEC Materials White Papers, intended as concise living documents summarizing the unique potential and challenges faced in the R&D of promising PEC materials classes. The white papers have been devised according to the vision outlined by the Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan to promote progress in meeting DOE goals via identification of technical barriers and development of approaches to solve them.

Contacts

The following people can be contacted for more information about the Photoelectrochemical Working Group.

Eric Miller
Hydrogen Production and Delivery
DOE Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program
Fuel Cell Technologies
U.S. Department of Energy, EE-2H
1000 Independence Avenue
Washington, DC 20585-0121
Phone: 202-287-5829

Heli Wang
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Golden, Colorado, Laboratories and Offices
15013 Denver West Parkway
Golden, CO 80401
303-275-3000

Thomas Jaramillo
Stanford University
Department of Chemical Engineering
381 North South Mall
Stauffer III, Room 113
Stanford, CA 94305-5025