Hydrogen treatment and FeOOH overlayer: Effective approaches for enhancing the photoelectrochemical water oxidation performance of bismuth vanadate thin films
Journal article, 2019
The water oxidation capability of the promising photoanode bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) is hampered by poor bulk electron transport and by high rates of charge recombination at the semiconductor/electrolyte interface. Here, we demonstrate that a dual modification of BiVO4 by: (i) annealing in a hydrogen-containing environment and (ii) coating with FeOOH overlayer substantially enhances the water oxidation ability of BiVO4 photoanodes. Hydrogen treated, FeOOH coated BiVO4 photoanodes exhibit a water oxidation photocurrent density of 2.16 mA cm−2 at 1.23 VRHE, which is 5 times higher than for untreated BiVO4 films. Moreover, they showed an impressive low photocurrent onset potential of −0.11 VRHE. A stable photocurrent was observed for 1 h of water oxidation measurement at 1.23 VRHE under 1 Sun illumination. The enhanced photocurrent of FeOOH/H:BiVO4 photoanode is ascribed to an improved bulk charge transport, as confirmed by impedance spectroscopy measurements and Mott-Schottky analysis. The cathodic shift of the onset potential originates from a lowering of the flat band potential and from an improvement of the charge transport at the semiconductor/electrolyte interface. The dual modification strategy used here offers a simple but effective approach of improving the water oxidation performance of BiVO4.