Multisample Correlation Reveals the Origin of the Photocurrent of an Unstable Cu2O Photocathode during CO2Reduction

Publication Name

Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters


The reliable characterization of the photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance of unstable photoelectrodes, often the simplest devices used as a baseline, is a huge challenge. By performing a correlation analysis of more than 100 parameters of Cu2O photocathodes electrodeposited under the same conditions, we discovered a strong positive correlation (R = 0.866) between the photocurrent in argon and the deposition current peak magnitude during electrodeposition, while a strong negative correlation (R = -0.787) was found in CO2. In argon, a positive correlation between the photocurrent during PEC tests and the post-PEC dark current suggests the dominance of photodegradation. In CO2, the higher photocurrent in PEC tests correlates well with the lower post-PEC dark current, revealing the dominance of photocatalytic CO2 reduction during the rapid PEC tests. Correlation analysis provides statistically robust insights into the operation of unstable electrodes based on routinely measured parameters and thus constitutes a simple yet previously unexplored methodology for characterizing photoelectrodes within the first minutes of operation.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number

CE 140100012

Funding Sponsor

Australian Research Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)