CO2-WIN joint project - Direct efficient photoelectrocatalytic CO2 reduction: Multiple solar cells for sunlight-induced photoelectrocatalysis; subprojects: In-situ optical spectroscopy; III-V epitaxy; solid-state electrolyte interface


Contact person

Prof. Thomas Hannappel
Group for Fundamentals of Energy Materials

Phone: +49 3677 69-2566

Funding information

Funding source: Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung

Project leader:Projektträger Jülich (PTJ)

Project number:033RC021A

Participating groups: Group for Fundamentals of Energy Materials

Period of funding: 01.02.2020 - 31.01.2023

Project information

Agnieszka Paszuk
To develop an "artificial leaf" in the form of a multiple absorber structure based on III-V semiconductors that generates sufficient photovoltage to efficiently reduce CO2 by non-assisted, direct, sunlight-induced photoelectrocatalysis in an integrated system.

The aim of the DEPECOR project is to combine highly efficient multi-absorber structures in a systemic approach, with structures that have already been established in photovoltaics, where their critical interfaces and photovoltages will be adapted for CO2 reduction, with specific corrosion protection layers and efficient catalysts specifically selected according to their material and shape. For the non-assisted, direct, sunlight-induced CO2 reduction, the photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells must generate a photovoltage of approximately 3 V. This is possible with multiple absorber structures based on III-V semiconductors. These PEC cells consist of several stacked semiconductor structures (sub-cells) that absorb the light in different spectral ranges. Thus, an effective exploitation of the sunlight spectrum is achieved and the energy losses are significantly reduced compared to single absorber systems. The total voltage is composed of the sum of the voltages of each sub-cell and therefore sufficient to drive the chemical reactions directly.

The TU Ilmenau (TU-IL) group will develop and test integrated III-V semiconductor, photoelectrocatalytic half-cells. In order to increase the stability of the cells and enhance the performance, metal oxide protective layers will be deposited by atomic layer deposition (ALD) at the TU Munich (TUM) and the heterointerfaces will be examined in cooperation with TU-IL. Highly active catalysts will be developed at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and integrated into the cell structure. The interaction of the photocathode with the electrolyte and the quantitative development of the reaction products will be measured at the TUM, HZB, TU-IL and at the Joint Center of Artificial Photosynthesis (USA). The project partner AZUR SPACE Solar Power GmbH (AZUR) will deliver suitable industrially scalable multi-absorber structures on germanium and III-V substrates, while the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) will develop the layer structures on silicon substrates. The associated partner École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) will investigate the activity of specific Cu catalysts and will support the modeling of the prototype of CO2 reduction systems for non-assisted fuel production. The project partner AZUR as well as the associated partners BASF and Evonik will advise the prototype development regarding the technology transfer in order to develop the planned commercial product.