Low-Cost Perovskite/Silicon Semiconductors Integrated with Earth Abundant Catalysts for Efficient Solar Hydrogen Generation

December 8th, 2021

R&D Focus Areas:
Photochemical and photocatalytic processes, electrolysis, specialised components and devices

Lead Organisation:
Australian National University (ANU)

Shenzhen Kohodo Hydrogen Energy, University of New South Wales (UNSW)


Start date:
August 2018

Completion date:
March 2023

Key contacts:
Professor Kylie Catchpole – kylie.catchpole@anu.edu.au
Dr. Siva Karuturi – siva.karuturi@anu.edu.au
Dr. Fiona J. Beck – fiona.beck@anu.edu.au
Professor Chuan Zhao – chuan.zhao@unsw.edu.au

AUD$1,712,303 – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)
AUD$269,881 – ANU

Project total cost:
AUD$4,377,693 – combined cash and in-kind contributions

Project Summary description:
The aim of this project is to design, fabricate and integrate low-cost semiconductors and catalysts for direct solar-to-hydrogen (DSTH) production. Achieving a high solar-to-hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiency based on durable low-cost materials is crucial to promote commercial adoption of DSTH technology. Perovskite and Si are low-cost semiconductors suitable to construct direct solar hydrogen production systems with high efficiency and low-cost when integrated with Ni-based catalysts.

Different configurations of DSTH systems based on perovskite-Si tandems and earth abundant catalysts have been explored in this project. Compact Ni-based catalyst layers were developed at ANU using industry-relevant physical deposition techniques. High performance porous Ni-based electrodes were developed by UNSW. A solar hydrogen generation system has been demonstrated with an unprecedented STH efficiency of 20%. Furthermore, a new theoretical framework has been developed to quantify and evaluate different loss mechanisms in the DSTH systems.

The team is currently working on the final phase of the project which consists of further improving the stability of the DSTH system and a detailed techno-economic analysis to estimate the levelized cost of hydrogen.

More details on the research, including contact information, can be found at the project webpage:

Related publications and key links:

  • Doudou Zhang, Haobo Li, Asim Riaz, Astha Sharma, Wensheng Liang, Yuan Wang, Hongjun Chene, Kaushal Vora, Di Yan, Zhen Su, Antonio Tricoli, Chuan Zhao, Fiona J. Beck, Karsten Reuter, Kylie Catchpole and Siva Karuturi “Unconventional direct synthesis of Ni 3 N/Ni with N-vacancies for efficient and stable hydrogen evolution.” Energy & Environmental Science (2021).


  • Doudou Zhang, Wensheng Liang, Astha Sharma, Joshua D. Butson, Aswani Gopakumar Saraswathyvilasam,  Fiona J. Beck, Kylie R. Catchpole, and Siva Karuturi1 “Ultrathin HfO2 passivated silicon photocathodes for efficient alkaline water splitting.” Applied Physics Letters 119.19 (2021): 193901.


  • Yuan Wang*, Astha Sharma*, The Duong, Hamidreza Arandiyan, Tingwen Zhao, Doudou Zhang, Zhen Su, Magnus Garbrecht, Fiona J. Beck, Siva Karuturi, Chuan Zhao and Kylie Catchpole. “Direct Solar Hydrogen Generation at 20% Efficiency Using Low-Cost Materials. ” Advanced Energy Materials 11.34 (2021): 2101053.


  • Astha Sharma, and Fiona J. Beck. “Quantifying and Comparing Fundamental Loss Mechanisms to Enable Solar‐to‐Hydrogen Conversion Efficiencies above 20% Using Perovskite–Silicon Tandem Absorbers.” Advanced Energy and Sustainability Research 2.1 (2021): 2000039.


  • Beck, Fiona J. “Rational Integration of Photovoltaics for Solar Hydrogen Generation.” ACS Applied Energy Materials 2.9 (2019): 6395-6403.


  • Karuturi, Siva Krishna, Heping Shen, Astha Sharma, Fiona J. Beck, Purushothaman Varadhan, The Duong, Parvathala Reddy Narangari, Doudou Zhang, Yimao Wan, Jr-Hau He, Hark Hoe Tan, Chennupati Jagadish, and Kylie Catchpole. “Over 17% Efficiency Stand‐Alone Solar Water Splitting Enabled by Perovskite‐Silicon Tandem Absorbers.” Advanced Energy Materials 10, no. 28 (2020): 2000772.


  • Astha Sharma, The Doung, Peng Liu, Doudou Zhang, Di Yan, Christian Samundsett, Heping Shen, Siva Karuturi, Kylie Catchpole and Fiona J. Beck. “Silicon photocathodes with carrier selective passivated contacts, and earth abundant catalyst for high performance, low-cost, direct solar hydrogen generation.” submitted.

Project Website

ARENA-hosted Reports

Efficient Solar Hydrogen Generation Mid-Term Activity March 2021 – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Efficient Solar Hydrogen Generation Final Report – Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)

Higher degree studies reported:
Three PhD students have been supported through this project at ANU and UNSW


Updated: July 2023