Highly conformal deposition of ultrathin cobalt acetate on a bismuth vanadate nanostructure for solar water splitting
In this work, the effect of photochemically modifying nanoporous bismuth vanadate in Co2+ solution in acetate buffer (abbreviated as Co–Ac) on water oxidation was thoroughly studied. Modification of photoanode surfaces with the electrocatalyst Co–Ac has yielded a ∼450 mV cathodic shift in the onset potential and more than threefold higher photocurrent density at 1.23 V than that of pristine BiVO4. Structural and mechanistic studies indicate that Co–Ac effectively acts as a true catalyst on BiVO4 in that Co–Ac can boost the photoelectrochemical properties of the BiVO4 underlayer by mediating hole extraction across the photoexcited semiconductor–electrolyte interface. With Co–Ac as the catalyst, water oxidation becomes much more facile by overcoming the unproductive surface electron–hole recombination. This work considers the potential application of this simple surface modification approach for other candidate photoanodes.