V-substituted In2S3: an intermediate band material with photocatalytic activity in the whole visible light range
We proposed in our previous work V-substituted In2S3 as an intermediate band (IB) material able to enhance the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by combining two photons to achieve a higher energy electron excitation, much like natural photosynthesis. Here this hyper-doped material is tested in a photocatalytic reaction using wavelength-controlled light. The results evidence its ability to use photons with wavelengths of up to 750 nm, i.e. with energy significantly lower than the bandgap (=2.0 eV) of non-substituted In2S3, driving with them the photocatalytic reaction at rates comparable to those of non-substituted In2S3 in its photoactivity range (λ ≤ 650 nm). Photoluminescence spectra evidence that the same bandgap excitation as in V-free In2S3 occurs in V-substituted In2S3 upon illumination with photons in the same sub-bandgap energy range which is effective in photocatalysis, and its linear dependence on light intensity proves that this is not due to a nonlinear optical property. This evidences for the first time that a two-photon process can be active in photocatalysis in a single-phase material. Quantum calculations using GW-type many-body perturbation theory suggest that the new band introduced in the In2S3 gap by V insertion is located closer to the conduction band than to the valence band, so that hot carriers produced by the two-photon process would be of electron type; they also show that the absorption coefficients of both transitions involving the IB are of significant and similar magnitude. The results imply that V-substituted In2S3, besides being photocatalytically active in the whole visible light range (a property which could be used for the production of solar fuels), could make possible photovoltaic cells of improved efficiency.