ALTHOUGH good performance has been achieved with established solid state junction solar cells, their cost remains well above that required for large scale terrestrial applications. New concepts1,2 for photovoltaic energy conversion have been introduced which involve the junction between a semiconductor and an electrolyte. These schemes may lead to new possibilities of considerably reduced materials and fabrication costs, providing that many technical problems could be solved. We report here metal–semiconductor–liquid electrolyte junctions in which an n-type sulphide semiconductor is anodically formed in situ on its metal and, under photoexcitation, drives a sulphide–polysulphide redox couple when connected to a suitable cathode. The original contribution in this area was made by Gerischer2 who demonstrated that the cell (single crystal n-CdS/Fe(CN)64−, Fe(CN)63−/SnO2) has an initial conversion efficiency > 5% (ref. 3) for sunlight to electric power, in spite of the 2.4-eV band gap of CdS, which implies that wavelengths > 550 nm (the greater part of the incident solar photons) are ineffective.
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