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Insights into the interfacial carrier behaviour of copper ferrite (CuFe2O4) photoanodes for solar water oxidation

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Abstract

Designing efficient yet robust photoanodes for water oxidation stands out as a major bottleneck in the realization of a feasible photoelectrochemical tandem cell for solar water splitting. Spinel copper ferrite (CuFe2O4) has been recently reported as a potential candidate photoanode, exhibiting an extended light absorption (band gap of 1.9 eV) with respect to traditional metal oxides. However, limiting factors dictating the poor performance (0.5 mA cm−2 at 1.6 V vs. RHE) remain unclear. Here, CuFe2O4 thin-film photoanodes were examined using frequency-dependent electrochemical techniques, namely photoelectrochemical impedance spectroscopy (PEIS) and intensity-modulated photocurrent/photovoltage spectroscopy (IMPS/IMVS), to provide a detailed description of the photogenerated charge carrier behaviour under operational conditions. Results evidenced a strong Fermi level pinning during oxygen evolution caused by the accumulation of surface intermediates and a relatively slow rate of charge transfer (ktran ∼ 5 s−1). Moreover, the short hole diffusion length (Lp ∼ 4 nm) and the low charge collection efficiency (below 10%) further prevent efficient charge extraction. Overall, these findings point towards the need of both film nanostructuring and surface engineering to further advance this photoanode.

Graphical abstract: Insights into the interfacial carrier behaviour of copper ferrite (CuFe2O4) photoanodes for solar water oxidation

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Publication details

The article was received on 20 Nov 2018, accepted on 20 Dec 2018 and first published on 20 Dec 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8TA11160J
Citation: J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article
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    Insights into the interfacial carrier behaviour of copper ferrite (CuFe2O4) photoanodes for solar water oxidation

    Y. Liu, F. Le Formal, F. Boudoire, L. Yao, K. Sivula and N. Guijarro, J. Mater. Chem. A, 2019, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C8TA11160J

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