Hydrogen evolution from a copper(I) oxide photocathode coated with an amorphous molybdenum sulphide catalyst
Concerns over climate change resulting from accumulation of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the uncertainty in the amount of recoverable fossil fuel reserves are driving forces for the development of renewable, carbon-neutral energy technologies. A promising clean solution is photoelectrochemical water splitting to produce hydrogen using abundant solar energy. Here we present a simple and scalable technique for the deposition of amorphous molybdenum sulphide films as hydrogen evolution catalyst onto protected copper(I) oxide films. The efficient extraction of excited electrons by the conformal catalyst film leads to photocurrents of up to −5.7 mA cm−2 at 0 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode (pH 1.0) under simulated AM 1.5 solar illumination. Furthermore, the photocathode exhibits enhanced stability under acidic environments, whereas photocathodes with platinum nanoparticles as catalyst deactivate more rapidly under identical conditions. The work demonstrates the potential of earth-abundant light-harvesting material and catalysts for solar hydrogen production.