A temperature-controlled photoelectrochemical cell for quantitative product analysis
In this study, we describe the design and operation of a temperature-controlled photoelectrochemical cell for analysis of gaseous and liquid products formed at an illuminated working electrode. This cell is specifically designed to quantitatively analyze photoelectrochemical processes that yield multiple gas and liquid products at low current densities and exhibit limiting reactant concentrations that prevent these processes from being studied in traditional single chamber electrolytic cells. The geometry of the cell presented in this paper enables front-illumination of the photoelectrode and maximizes the electrode surface area to electrolyte volume ratio to increase liquid product concentration and hence enhances ex situ spectroscopic sensitivity toward them. Gas is bubbled through the electrolyte in the working electrode chamber during operation to maintain a saturated reactant concentration and to continuously mix the electrolyte. Gaseous products are detected by an in-line gas chromatograph, and liquid products are analyzed ex situ by nuclear magnetic resonance. Cell performance was validated by examining carbon dioxide reduction on a silver foil electrode, showing comparable results both to those reported in the literature and identical experiments performed in a standard parallel-electrode electrochemical cell. To demonstrate a photoelectrochemical application of the cell, CO2 reduction experiments were carried out on a plasmonic nanostructured silver photocathode and showed different product distributions under dark and illuminated conditions.