Hydrogen is the ecologically ideal energy vector. Efficient photo-electrochemical production of hydrogen from water could be the optimal solution to the energy storage problems related to renewable sources. However, in the water splitting reaction the electric potential required to initiate the process significantly exceeds the thermodynamic limit. By controlling the spins of the electrons that are transferred from the solution to the anode, and ensuring that they are coaligned, the threshold voltage for the process can in theory be decreased to that of the thermodynamic voltage. In the present study, by using TiO2 anodes coated with chiral materials, we explore what are the effects of having a spin-polarized current on water electrolysis. The spin-polarization arises from exploiting what is known as Chiral Induced Spin Selectivity effect by using chiral molecules as spin filters.
When using chiral molecules instead of a non-chiral analogue, the hydrogen production from water is enhanced, the threshold voltage is reduced and the by-product formation of hydrogen peroxide is suppressed.