Assembling of Bi atoms on TiO2 nanorods boosts photoelectrochemical water splitting of semiconductors†
Low photoconversion efficiency, high charge transfer resistance and fast recombination rate are the bottlenecks of semiconductor nanomaterials in photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting, where the introduction of an appropriate co-catalyst is an effective strategy to improve their performance. In the present study, we have purposely designed atomic-scale dispersed bismuth (Bi) assembled on titanium dioxide nanorods (TiO2), and demonstrated its effective role as a co-catalyst in enhancing the PEC water splitting performance of TiO2. As a result, functionalized Bi/TiO2 generates a high photocurrent intensity at 1.23 VRHE under simulated solar light irradiation, which is 4-fold higher than that of pristine TiO2, exhibiting a significantly improved PEC performance for water splitting. The strategy presented in this study opens a new window for the construction of non-precious metals dispersed at atomic scales as efficient co-catalysts for realizing sustainable solar energy-driven energy conversion and storage.