Fabrication and improved photoelectrochemical properties of a transferred GaN-based thin film with InGaN/GaN layers†
Herein, a lift-off mesoporous GaN-based thin film, which consisted of a strong phase-separated InGaN/GaN layer and an n-GaN layer, was fabricated via an electrochemical etching method in a hydrofluoric acid (HF) solution for the first time and then transferred onto quartz or n-Si substrates, acting as photoanodes during photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting in a 1 M NaCl aqueous solution. Compared to the as-grown GaN-based film, the transferred GaN-based thin films possess higher and blue-shifted light emission, presumably resulting from an increase in the surface area and stress relaxation in the InGaN/GaN layer embedded on the mesoporous n-GaN. The properties such as (i) high photoconversion efficiency, (ii) low turn-on voltage (−0.79 V versus Ag/AgCl), and (iii) outstanding stability enable the transferred films to have excellent PEC water splitting ability. Furthermore, as compared to the film transferred onto the quartz substrate, the film transferred onto the n-Si substrate exhibits higher photoconversion efficiency (2.99% at −0.10 V) due to holes (h+) in the mesoporous n-GaN layer that originate from the n-Si substrate.