Two-dimensional functionalized hexagonal boron nitride for quantum dot photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation†
We report the design and fabrication of a heterojunction photoanode consisting of two-dimensional (2D) functionalized hexagonal boron nitride (F-h-BN) nanoflakes, introduced at the interface between SnO2 and quantum dots (QDs) (e.g. CdS and CdS–CdSe), used as a photoanode in a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) for hydrogen (H2) generation. We highlight the effect of 2D F-h-BN nanoflakes on the carrier recombination and performance of the PEC system. In addition, the tailoring of SnO2 film thickness and incorporation of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were investigated for their effect on carrier dynamics and overall device performance. Our results show that a PEC device based on SnO2/F-h-BN/CdS QDs exhibits a 60% improvement in the saturated photocurrent density (at 1.0 V vs. RHE) compared to the control device, due to improved electron injection and reduced carrier recombination at the metal oxide/QDs/electrolyte interface. The highest saturated photocurrent density value reached 6.35 mA cm−2 (at 1.0 V vs. RHE), after thickness optimization of the SnO2 film, incorporation (0.015 wt%) of MWCNTs, and cascade CdS–CdSe QDs. In addition, the PEC system maintains 98% of the initial value of photocurrent density after four hours of continuous one sun illumination (AM 1.5G, 100 mW cm−2). Our results offer a simple yet cost-effective and efficient strategy to enhance the performance of QD based PEC H2 generation and potentially other optoelectronic devices.