A tandem water-splitting device based on a bio-inspired manganese catalyst

Robin Brimblecombe, Annette Koo, G Charles Dismukes, Gerhard Swiegers, Leone Spiccia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


As water is the most abundant molecule on the planet, and given the huge amounts of solar energy that strike the earth every day, the production of hydrogen by using sunlight to split water has the potential to provide large amounts of clean, renewable fuel. This can be achieved by coupling a water electrolyzer to photovoltaic cells, which has been previously demonstrated to yield solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiencies of up to 7a?? .1 However, due to the large overpotentials required to oxidize water, typical electrolyzers operate at voltages of around 2a??V.2 Thus, when using conventional silicon photovoltaic devices, four cells need to be assembled in series, making the process prohibitively expensive.3 A wide range of catalysts that lower the required overpotential have been developed in response to this challenge. An ideal water oxidation catalyst would remove the overpotential, so that only the thermodynamic energy would be required to drive the water-splitting reaction; equivalent to a voltage of 1.23a??V (pHa??0).4 A diverse range of metal oxides, including multimetal oxides containing various combinations of Ti, Nb, Ta, W, Ga, In, Ge, Sn, and Sb; narrow-band-gap semiconductors, such as CdS and CdSe; and other materials have been developed in an effort to achieve this goal.1,a??5a??13 This is a very active area of research because achieving the right balance between energy absorption, catalytic activity, and materials stability has proven difficult for a single material.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1146 - 1150
Number of pages5
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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