Ultrathin Fe-NiO nanosheets as catalytic charge reservoirs for a planar Mo-doped BiVO4 photoanode†
The energy conversion efficiency of a photoelectrochemical system is intimately connected to a number of processes, including light absorption, charge excitation, separation and transfer processes. Of these processes, the charge transfer rate at the electrode|electrolyte interface is the slowest and, hence, the rate-limiting step causing charge accumulation. Such an understanding underpins efforts focused on applying highly active electrocatalysts, which may contribute to the overall performance by augmenting surface charge accumulation, prolonging charge lifetime or facilitating charge transfer. How the overall effect depends on these individual possible mechanisms has been difficult to study previously. Aiming at advancing knowledge about this important interface, we applied first-order serial reactions to elucidate the charge excitation, separation and recombination kinetics on the semiconductor|electrocatalyst interfaces in air. The study platform for the present work was prepared using a two-step Mo-doped BiVO4 film modified with an ultrathin Fe-doped NiO nanosheet, which was derived from an Fe-doped α-Ni(OH)2 nanosheet by a convenient precipitation and ion-exchange method. The simulation results of the transient surface photovoltage (TSPV) data showed that the surface charge accumulation was significantly enhanced, even at an extremely low coverage (0.12–120 ppm) using ultra-thin Fe-NiO nanosheets. Interestingly, no improvement in the charge separation rate constants or reduction of recombination rate constants was observed under our experimental conditions. Instead, the ultra-thin Fe-NiO nanosheets served as a charge storage layer to facilitate the catalytic process for enhanced performance.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Editor’s Choice – Toshiharu Teranishi