Tin doping speeds up hole transfer during light-driven water oxidation at hematite photoanodes†
Numerous studies have shown that the performance of hematite photoanodes for light-driven water splitting is improved substantially by doping with various metals, including tin. Although the enhanced performance has commonly been attributed to bulk effects such as increased conductivity, recent studies have noted an impact of doping on the efficiency of the interfacial transfer of holes involved in the oxygen evolution reaction. However, the methods used were not able to elucidate the origin of this improved efficiency, which could originate from passivation of surface electron–hole recombination or catalysis of the oxygen evolution reaction. The present study used intensity-modulated photocurrent spectroscopy (IMPS), which is a powerful small amplitude perturbation technique that can de-convolute the rate constants for charge transfer and recombination at illuminated semiconductor electrodes. The method was applied to examine the kinetics of water oxidation on thin solution-processed hematite model photoanodes, which can be Sn-doped without morphological change. We observed a significant increase in photocurrent upon Sn-doping, which is attributed to a higher transfer efficiency. The kinetic data obtained using IMPS show that Sn-doping brings about a more than tenfold increase in the rate constant for water oxidation by photogenerated holes. This result provides the first demonstration that Sn-doping speeds up water oxidation on hematite by increasing the rate constant for hole transfer.