Water oxidation kinetics of nanoporous BiVO4 photoanodes functionalised with nickel/iron oxyhydroxide electrocatalysts†
In this work, spectroelectrochemical techniques are employed to analyse the catalytic water oxidation performance of a series of three nickel/iron oxyhydroxide electrocatalysts deposited on FTO and BiVO4, at neutral pH. Similar electrochemical water oxidation performance is observed for each of the FeOOH, Ni(Fe)OOH and FeOOHNiOOH electrocatalysts studied, which is found to result from a balance between degree of charge accumulation and rate of water oxidation. Once added onto BiVO4 photoanodes, a large enhancement in the water oxidation photoelectrochemical performance is observed in comparison to the un-modified BiVO4. To understand the origin of this enhancement, the films were evaluated through time-resolved optical spectroscopic techniques, allowing comparisons between electrochemical and photoelectrochemical water oxidation. For all three catalysts, fast hole transfer from BiVO4 to the catalyst is observed in the transient absorption data. Using operando photoinduced absorption measurements, we find that water oxidation is driven by oxidised states within the catalyst layer, following hole transfer from BiVO4. This charge transfer is correlated with a suppression of recombination losses which result in remarkably enhanced water oxidation performance relative to un-modified BiVO4. Moreover, despite similar electrocatalytic behaviour of all three electrocatalysts, we show that variations in water oxidation performance observed among the BiVO4/MOOH photoanodes stem from differences in photoelectrochemical and electrochemical charge accumulation in the catalyst layers. Under illumination, the amount of accumulated charge in the catalyst is driven by the injection of photogenerated holes from BiVO4, which is further affected by the recombination loss at the BiVO4/MOOH interface, and thus leads to deviations from their behaviour as standalone electrocatalysts.