Tungsten oxide nanostructures and nanocomposites for photoelectrochemical water splitting
Hydrogen production from photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting using semiconductor photocatalysts has attracted great attention to realize clean and renewable energy from solar energy. The visible light response of WO3 with a long hole diffusion length (∼150 nm) and good electron mobility (∼12 cm2 V−1 s−1) makes it suitable as the photoanode. However, WO3 suffers from issues including rapid recombination of photoexcited electron–hole pairs, photo-corrosion during the photocatalytic process due to the formation of peroxo-species, sluggish kinetics of photogenerated holes, and slow charge transfer at the semiconductor/electrolyte interface. This work highlights the approaches to overcome these drawbacks of WO3 photoanodes, including: (i) the manipulation of nanostructured WO3 photoanodes to decrease the nanoparticle size to promote hole migration to the WO3/electrolyte interface which benefits the charge separation; (ii) doping or introducing oxygen vacancies to improve electrical conductivity; exposing high energy crystal surfaces to promote the consumption of photogenerated holes on the high-active crystal face, thereby suppressing the recombination of photogenerated electrons and holes; (iii) decorating with co-catalysts to reduce the overpotential which inhibits the formation of peroxo-species; (iv) other methods such as coupling with narrow band semiconductors to accelerate the charge separation and controlling the crystal phase via annealing to reduce defects. These approaches are reviewed with detailed examples.