Gradient tantalum-doped hematite homojunction photoanode improves both photocurrents and turn-on voltage for solar water splitting

Hemin Zhang, Dongfeng Li, Woo Jin Byun, Xiuli Wang, Tae Joo Shin, Hu Young Jeong, Hongxian Han, Can Li, Jae Sung Lee
2020 Nature Communications  
Hematite has a great potential as a photoanode for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting by converting solar energy into hydrogen fuels, but the solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of state-of-the-art hematite photoelectrodes are still far below the values required for practical hydrogen production. Here, we report a core-shell formation of gradient tantalum-doped hematite homojunction nanorods by combination of hydrothermal regrowth strategy and hybrid microwave annealing, which
more » ... es the photocurrent density and reduces the turn-on voltage simultaneously. The unusual bi-functional effects originate from the passivation of the surface states and intrinsic built-in electric field by the homojunction formation. The additional driving force provided by the field can effectively suppress charge–carrier recombination both in the bulk and on the surface of hematite, especially at lower potentials. Moreover, the synthesized homojunction shows a remarkable synergy with NiFe(OH)x cocatalyst with significant additional improvements of photocurrent density and cathodic shift of turn-on voltage. The work has nicely demonstrated multiple collaborative strategies of gradient doping, homojunction formation, and cocatalyst modification, and the concept could shed light on designing and constructing the efficient nanostructures of semiconductor photoelectrodes in the field of solar energy conversion.
doi:10.1038/s41467-020-18484-8 pmid:32934221 fatcat:26nsexxksbgflefelbx6p3avhu