Scientists have developed an inexpensive device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen.
The water splitter is a silicon semiconductor coated in an ultrathin layer of nickel and it could help pave the way for large-scale production of clean hydrogen fuel from sunlight, according to the researchers. Their results are published in the journal Science.
The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining or demand is high.
“Our lab has produced one of the longest lasting silicon-based photoanodes,” he says. “The results suggest that an ultrathin nickel coating not only suppresses corrosion but also serves as an electrocatalyst to expedite the otherwise sluggish water-splitting reaction.