This invention is a system in which an externally applied magnetic field is established at a semiconductor surface. Upon irradiation with light the magnetically modified electrode deployed in an electrochemical cell produces higher currents compared to non-modified cells. The magnetic field on the semiconductor electrode surface reduces recombination rate and increases the interfacial electron transfer rate. In one example of this technology a cell composed of a magnetically modified semiconductor electrode and a platinum counter electrode was illuminated by light. Hydrogen gas was produced at substantially lower overpotentials compared to non-modified cells.
1) LOWER OVERPOTENTIAL: In magnetically modified cells the overpotential required to liberate hydrogen gas is approximately 1.0 volts lower than similar non-magnetic cells. 2) LOW COST MODIFICATION: Magnetic materials are inexpensive and easy to apply. 3) APPLICABLE TO MANY SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS: This technology is expected to improve other electrochemical systems that have semiconductor and liquid interfaces.