Plasmon-enhanced hierarchical photoelectrodes with mechanical flexibility for hydrogen generation from urea solution and human urine

  • Jiayong Gan
  • Bharath Bangalore Rajeeva
  • Zilong Wu
  • Daniel Penley
  • Yuebing ZhengEmail author
Research Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Solar Cells


We have demonstrated plasmon-enhanced flexible and hierarchical photoanodes for hydrogen production from human urine in a photoelectrochemical cell. The photoanodes consist of cobalt-doped α-Fe2O3 nanorod arrays functionalized with Au nanoparticles and Ni(OH)2. The Au nanoparticles and Ni(OH)2 work as plasmonic nanostructures and urea oxidation catalyst, respectively. Benefiting from the plasmonic and catalytic effects, the photoanodes exhibit an AM 1.5 photocurrent of 5.0 ± 0.1 mA cm−2 (urea solution) and 7.5 ± 0.1 mA cm−2 (human urine) at 0.3 V versus Ag/AgCl. At a Pt counter electrode, continuous hydrogen gas evolution is achieved at a small bias. With their high performance and mechanical flexibility that facilitates the large-scale transportation and implementation in the field, the photoanodes are paving a sustainable way towards hydrogen production and urine treatment.

Graphic abstract


Flexible photoelectrode Hydrogen production Photoelectrochemical cell Urine Plasmonic effects 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation (CBET-1704634).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 3065 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MP4 11855 kb)

Supplementary material 3 (MP4 20404 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering Program, Texas Materials InstituteThe University of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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