A simple one-step synthetic route to access a range of metal-doped polyoxovanadate clusters†
VO(OiPr)3 is a useful precursor for the synthesis of a range of metal-doped polyoxovanadate (POV) cage compounds, its reactions with hydrated metal salts providing a route to arrangements containing Bi and other main group metals, transition metals and lanthanides. The new POV compounds [Bi2(DMSO)6V12O33Br]2[M(DMSO)6] (2Br-M, M = CoII, NiII, CuII, ZnII) [Bi2(DMSO)6V12O33Cl]2[Ca(DMSO)x]·yDMSO (2Cl-Ca), [Bi2(DMSO)6V12O33Cl]2[LnCl(DMSO)7] (2Cl-Ln, Ln = LaIII, CeIII, EuIII), [Bi2(DMSO)6V10O28F2]3[Bi(DMSO)5]2 (3), [V12O32(DMSO)][Gd(NO3)(DMSO)5.5]2 (4) and [Ln(DMSO)4V12O32Cl][LnCl(DMSO)7] (5Cl-Ln, Ln = CeIII, EuIII) have been structurally characterised, and their properties studied using UV-Vis spectroscopy and cyclic voltammetry. Drop-casting these compounds onto fluorine-doped tin oxide followed by calcination provides a simple approach to thin films of metal-doped BiVO4 or LnVO4, depending on the composition of the cage precursor. The applications of the BiVO4 films as photoanodes for water oxidation is explored, with transition metal doping of BiVO4 improving the activity (∼1.8–2.4 times the photocurrent density of undoped BiVO4 at 1.23 V vs. RHE) while lanthanide or Ca-doping is detrimental.