Subwavelength densely packed disordered semiconductor metasurface units for photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation
For most semiconductors, especially the visible-light-absorbing ones, the carrier diffusion length is significantly shorter than the light penetration depth, limiting their photoactivities. This limitation could be mitigated through the use of subwavelength semiconductor-based metasurfaces and metamaterials. In this paper, a large-scale compatible metasurface photocathode, made of densely packed disordered p-type chromium oxide (CrOX), is developed to be utilized in photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen generation. For this purpose, first, tightly packed random Cr nanorods are fabricated using an oblique angle deposition technique. Afterward, an annealing step is applied to the sample to transform these metallic units into a semiconducting p-type CrOX-based metasurface. Based on the experimental characterization results and numerical simulations, the proposed design can provide strong light-matter interactions in an ultra-broadband-wavelength range, mainly due to its multidimensional random geometry and ultrasmall gap sizes. Finally, to substantiate the activity of the CrOXnanorods, a core-crown geometry is developed where the NiOXcapping layer catalyzes the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The proposed heterostructure metasurface absorber can impose photocurrent values as large as 50 μA cm-2with a photocurrent spectral response extended up to 500 nm. Moreover, the electrode shows outstanding operation under light irradiation for 9 hours. This work demonstrates a simple, scalable design strategy to fabricate low-cost and stable photocathodes for PEC hydrogen evolution. © 2022 American Chemical Society. All rights reserved.