Pulsed laser-deposited n-Si/NiOx photoanodes for stable and efficient photoelectrochemical water splitting†
An electrocatalytic and stable nickel oxide (NiOx) thin layer was successfully deposited on an n-Si (100) substrate by pulsed laser deposition (PLD), acting as a photoanode for efficient photo-oxidation of water under solar illumination. It was revealed that the formed n-Si/NiOx heterojunction with good Schottky contact could improve photogenerated charge separation, and thus n-Si photoanodes deposited with a 105 nm-thick NiOx electrocatalytic layer exhibited a photovoltage of ∼350 mV, leading to greatly improved photoelectrochemical performances for water oxidation. The stability of the photoanode was significantly enhanced with the increasing thickness of NiOx protective layers. This study demonstrates a simple and effective method to enable the use of planar n-Si (100) substrates as efficient and durable photoanodes for practical solar water oxidation.