Tunable photoelectrochemical performance of Au/BiFeO3 heterostructure†
Ferroelectric photoelectrodes, other than conventional semiconductors, are alternative photo-absorbers in the process of water splitting. However, the capture of photons and efficient transfer of photo-excited carriers remain as two critical issues in ferroelectric photoelectrodes. In this work, we overcome the aforementioned issues by decorating the ferroelectric BiFeO3 (BFO) surface with Au nanocrystals, and thus improving the photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance of BFO film. We demonstrate that the internal field induced by the spontaneous polarization of BFO can (1) tune the efficiency of the photo-excited carriers’ separation and charge transfer characteristics in bare BFO photoelectrodes, and (2) modulate an extra optical absorption within the visible light region, created by the surface plasmon resonance excitation of Au nanocrystals to capture more photons in the Au/BFO heterostructure. This study provides key insights for understanding the tunable features of PEC performance, composed of the heterostructure of noble metals and ferroelectric materials.