Photoelectrochemical Materials Research
NREL's photoelectrochemical (PEC) materials research focuses on proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis materials and catalysts.
Proton Exchange Membrane Electrolysis Materials
Our electrolysis materials research pursues platinum group metal-free catalysts to reduce the cost of PEM fuel cells while retaining high performance. Understanding catalysts with a heterogenous structure is limited by information depth and spatial resolution of common characterization techniques. We use sputtered thin films as a promising model system to study the oxygen evolution reaction active sites, in conjunction with surface analysis and electrocatalytic performance measurements, because of their potentially smooth and homogenous surface.
For more information, see X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and Rotating Disk Electrode Measurements of Smooth Sputtered Fe-N-C Films, Applied Surface Science (2020).
Our PEC catalyst research focuses on using established semiconductor processing techniques to improve structural quality and increase performance of new materials for water splitting and solar fuel production using photoelectrochemical methods. We also discover new materials for these (photo)electrochemical applications, mainly focused on the development of new photocathodes with improved selectivity for hydrogen or carbon dioxide reduction, as well as complementary photoanodes.
For more information, see the following publications:
MgxZn1-xO Contact to CuGa3Se5 Absorber for Photovoltaic and Photoelectrochemical Devices, Journal of Physics: Energy (2021)
NREL's work on photoelectrocatalytic and electrocatalytic materials research for sustainable hydrogen production and utilization is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office. The work on photoelectrocatalytic materials research for carbon dioxide reduction is funded by DOE's Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.