Improving Efficiency, Durability & Cost-effectiveness of III-V Semiconductors

December 8th, 2021

R&D Focus Areas:
Photochemical and photocatalytic processes, Techno-economic evaluation, Specialised components and devices

Lead Organisation:
Australian National University (ANU)

MicroLink Devices Inc., University of Michigan


Start date:
August 2018

Completion date:
August 2023

Key contacts:
Dr. Siva Karuturi –
Professor Hoe Tan –
Professor Chennupati Jagadish AC –

AUD$1,310,000 – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
AUD$247,081 – ANU

Project total cost:
AUD$5,040,000 – combined cash and in-kind contributions

Project Summary description:
This research project aims to develop material technologies for the direct production of gaseous hydrogen using sunlight. Specifically, it seeks to achieve high-efficiency and long-stability of direct solar-to-hydrogen (STH) generation using photoelectrochemical (PEC) cells based on III-V multi-junction semiconductors. A particular emphasis is set on the reduction of the balance of system costs, including via semiconductor lift-off techniques, surface modification techniques and use of earth-abundant co-catalysts.

Initial results indicate that PEC solar water splitting via III-V multi-junction semiconductors is technically an efficient way of producing hydrogen directly from sunlight. The ANU team has indeed grown epitaxially III-V semiconductor alloys corresponding to the ideal electronic structure for water splitting. The project also tackles the challenges still preventing III-V-based PEC systems to be economically viable, namely cost and durability. The ANU team has also demonstrated controlled spalling and lift-off of microscale InP and GaAs films, opening the ways to minimise materials usage and substrate recycling. Moreover, passivation strategies and encapsulation of decoupled photovoltaic-electrolysis systems have been developed. Finally, multi-junction cells from MicroLink Devices have been integrated with novel earth-abundant co-catalysts and encapsulation developed at ANU to achieve record STH efficiencies with long-term stability.

The team is currently working on the final phase of the project which consists of design of future development pathway and techno-economic analysis of the technological improvements achieved through this project.

The ANU works closely with MicroLink Devices Inc. and the University of Michigan (USA) combining their world leading expertise in epitaxial lift-off and semiconductor photocatalysis, respectively, with the III-V semiconductor epitaxial growth and catalyst development expertise of the ANU.

More details on the research, including contact information, can be found at the ARENA webpage for this project.

Related publications and key links:

  • Lee, Y., Yang, I., Tan, H.H., Jagadish, C. and Karuturi, S.K., 2020. Monocrystalline InP Thin Films with Tunable Surface Morphology and Energy Band gap. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces12(32), pp.36380-36388.
  • Tournet, J., Lee, Y., Karuturi, S.K., Tan, H.H. and Jagadish, C., 2020. III–V Semiconductor Materials for Solar Hydrogen Production: Status and Prospects. ACS Energy Letters5(2), pp.611-622.
  • Lee, Y., Tan, H.H., Jagadish, C. and Karuturi, S.K., 2021. Controlled Cracking for Large-Area Thin Film Exfoliation: Working Principles, Status, and Prospects. ACS Electronic Applied Materials, 3(1),145-162.
  • Butson, J.D., Narangari, P.R., Lysevych, M., Wong-Leung, J., Wan, Y., Karuturi, S.K., Tan, H.H. and Jagadish, C., 2019. InGaAsP as a Promising Narrow Band Gap Semiconductor for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces11(28), pp.25236-25242.
  • Tournet, J., Butson, J.D., Narangari, P.R., Dontu, S., Lysevych, M., Karuturi, S.K., Tan, H.H. and Jagadish, C., 2021. Narrow-bandgap InGaAsP solar cell with TiO2 carrier-selective contact. Physica Status Solidi RRL, 15(11), 2100282.
  • Lu, H., Tournet, J., Dastafkan, K., Liu, Y., Hau Ng, Y., Karuturi, S.K., Zhao, C. and Yin, Z., 2021. Noble-metal-free Multicomponent Nanointegration for Sustainable Energy Conversion. Chemical Reviews
  • Butson, J., Sharma, A., Chen, H., Wang, Y., Lee, Y., Varadhan, P., Tsampas M.N., Zhao, C., Tricoli, A., Tan, H.H., Jagadish, C. and Karuturi, S.K., 2021. Surface-Structured Cocatalyst Foils Unraveling a Pathway to High-Performance Solar Water Splitting. Advanced Energy Materials, p.2102752.
  • Narangari, P.R., Butson, J., Tan, H.H., Jagadish, C. and Karuturi, S.K., 2021. Surface-Tailored InP Nanowires via Self-Assembled Au Nanodots for Efficient and Stable Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Evolution. Nano Letters, 21(16), pp.6967-6974.

ARENA-hosted Reports

Direct Water Electrolysis Midterm Activity March 2021 – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

ANU – Direct Water Electrolysis – Public dissemination report – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Higher degree studies reported:
Three PhD students at the ANU have been supported by this project.


Reviewed: January 2024 (added ARENA public dissemination report)