Oxide semiconductors have been attracting great interest for renewable energy and sensing applications due to their earth- abundance, stability, and cost-effectiveness. In this project, we explore cupric oxide (CuO) nanowires, which are grown in highly dense and vertically aligned arrays via thermal oxidation of copper foil in ambient air. This material shows great promise for photoelectrochemical hydrogen evolution owing to a desirable electronic band gap and exceptional light-trapping properties. Initial results reveal a photocurrent comparable to other high-performing oxide photoelectrodes. In addition, we demonstrate a top contact methodology for instant integration of CuO nanowires for hydrogen gas sensing. This methodology provides a simple solution to the ongoing challenge of harvesting nanostructured materials for gas sensing application, bypassing laborious and expensive photolithography and thin-film metallization steps. In sum, these applications highlight the great versatility of CuO nanowires.
Project end date: 02/03/14