Impact of oxygen vacancies on TiO2 charge carrier transfer for photoelectrochemical water splitting†
Oxygen vacancies are recognized as the most prevalent defects in oxide materials. The effect of oxygen vacancies on the physicochemical properties of metal oxide semiconductors has attracted considerable attention in the photocatalysis field. But so far, the impact of oxygen vacancies on charge carrier transfer for photoelectrochemical water splitting has been unclear. In this work, TiO2 photoanodes with various oxygen vacancy concentrations were studied as metal oxide models to clarify the impact of oxygen vacancies on charge carrier transfer behaviors. The potential distribution and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy results indicate that the oxygen vacancies facilitate charge carrier diffusion in TiO2, but are disadvantageous for the charge carrier drift in the TiO2/electrolyte interface. The TiO2-400 photoanode with intermediate oxygen vacancy concentration exhibits the highest photocurrent density. It is expected that this work will provide reference to design and fabricate oxide semiconductors as photoanodes for higher charge carrier utilization in the field of solar-to-chemical energy conversion.