100 results found
Quan Y, YiO MHN, Li Y, et al., 2023, Influence of Bi co-catalyst particle size on the photocatalytic activity of BiOI microflowers in Bi/BiOI junctions – A mechanistic study of charge carrier behaviour, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, Vol: 443, ISSN: 1010-6030
Herein, we investigate the effect of Bi particle size in BiOI/Bi junctions on their photocatalytic function towards NO gas. BiOI microflowers (BiOI) and BiOI microflowers decorated with micron-sized Bi particles (BiOI/Bi MPs) were produced by a solvothermal method. BiOI decorated with nano-sized Bi particles (BiOI/Bi NPs) were produced by a reduction process. All samples were physically characterised by XRD, FT-IR, SEM, HR-TEM coupled with EDX analysis, DR-UV–visible and PL spectroscopy and functionally characterised by photocatalytic testing towards NO gas, TAS and EPR spectroscopy. Their photocatalytic activity towards NO gas was measured following ISO protocol (ISO 22197–1:2016). The best performing BiOI-based sample was BiOI/Bi NPs, showing NO and NOx conversion efficiencies of ∼33 and ∼11% under UVA light, and ∼26 and ∼8.1% under visible light, respectively. The BiOI and BiOI/Bi MPs samples showed significantly lower activities, displaying overall NOx conversion efficiencies of ∼3.5 and ∼0.8% under UVA light, respectively. Importantly, the best performing BiOI/Bi NPs samples showed visible light activity that was at least 6 times higher than that of a commercial TiO2 benchmark (CristalACTiVTM PC-S7). TAS measurements showed that charge carriers were significantly longer lived in the BiOI/Bi NPs sample (t50% from 10 μs of ∼90 μs) than the BiOI and BiOI/Bi MPs samples (t50% from 10 μs of ∼50 μs). This was attributed to the significant degree of interfacial contact formed between Bi and BiOI in the BiOI/Bi NPs sample, which enhanced charge carrier separation. EPR studies showed that this interfacial contact between BiOI and Bi likely promoted the formation of VO, which may have contributed to enhancement seen in photocatalytic activity in the BiOI/Bi junction.
Meng Z, Pastor E, Selim S, et al., 2023, Operando IR Optical Control of Localized Charge Carriers in BiVO4 Photoanodes., J Am Chem Soc, Vol: 145, Pages: 17700-17709
In photoelectrochemical cells (PECs) the photon-to-current conversion efficiency is often governed by carrier transport. Most metal oxides used in PECs exhibit thermally activated transport due to charge localization via the formation of polarons or the interaction with defects. This impacts catalysis by restricting the charge accumulation and extraction. To overcome this transport bottleneck nanostructuring, selective doping and photothermal treatments have been employed. Here we demonstrate an alternative approach capable of directly activating localized carriers in bismuth vanadate (BiVO4). We show that IR photons can optically excite localized charges, modulate their kinetics, and enhance the PEC current. Moreover, we track carriers bound to oxygen vacancies and expose their ∼10 ns charge localization, followed by ∼60 μs transport-assisted trapping. Critically, we demonstrate that localization is strongly dependent on the electric field within the device. While optical modulation has still a limited impact on overall PEC performance, we argue it offers a path to control devices on demand and uncover defect-related photophysics.
Anagnostopoulou M, Zindrou A, Cottineau T, et al., 2023, MOF-Derived Defective Co3O4 Nanosheets in Carbon Nitride Nanocomposites for CO2 Photoreduction and H2 Production, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, ISSN: 1944-8244
Wilson AA, Shalvey TP, Kafizas A, et al., 2023, Analysis of charge trapping and long lived hole generation in SrTiO<sub>3</sub> photoanodes, Sustainable Energy & Fuels
<jats:p>Long lived hole generation in SrTiO<jats:sub>3</jats:sub> is observed herein using transient absorption spectroscopy, even in the absence of applied bias to drive charge separation.</jats:p>
Jiamprasertboon A, Kafizas A, Hawkins E, et al., 2022, Photocatalytic NOx Oxidation of BiOCl Nanostructure-Based Films Grown Using Aerosol-Assisted Chemical Vapor Deposition, ACS APPLIED NANO MATERIALS
Wong Y, Li Y, Lin Z, et al., 2022, Studying the effects of processing parameters in the aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition of TiO2 coatings on glass for applications in photocatalytic NOx remediation, Applied Catalysis A: General, Vol: 648, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 0926-860X
Herein, we employ an aerosol-assisted method (AA-CVD) to produce TiO2 on window glass and study how the process parameters affect their photocatalytic activity towards NOx (NO + NO2) remediation. A range of process parameters are explored to produce 50 unique TiO2 coatings with wide ranging physicochemical properties. The physicochemical properties were examined using X-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy (AFM), UV–visible transmission spectroscopy and transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS), and the photocatalytic activity towards NO gas was measured using protocol akin to the ISO (22197-1:2016). The most active sample showed an NO removal of ∼14.4 ± 1.7 % and NOx removal of ∼5.4 ± 0.77 %, which was ∼40 and ∼25 times higher than that of a commercially available self-cleaning window. The links between the process parameters, physicochemical properties and photocatalytic activity were studied in depth, where it was seen that the three most influential physicochemical properties on the observed activity were surface roughness, charge carrier population and charge carrier lifetime. Therefore, we recommend that these properties be targeted in the rational design of more active coatings for applications in photocatalytic NOx remediation.
Schukraft GEM, Moss B, Kafizas AG, et al., 2022, Effect of band bending in photoactive MOF-based heterojunctions., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 14, Pages: 19342-19352, ISSN: 1944-8244
Semiconductor/metal-organic framework (MOF) heterojunctions have demonstrated promising performance for the photoconversion of CO2 into value-added chemicals. To further improve performance, we must understand better the factors which govern charge transfer across the heterojunction interface. However, the effects of interfacial electric fields, which can drive or hinder electron flow, are not commonly investigated in MOF-based heterojunctions. In this study, we highlight the importance of interfacial band bending using two carbon nitride/MOF heterojunctions with either Co-ZIF-L or Ti-MIL-125-NH2. Direct measurement of the electronic structures using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), work function, valence band, and band gap measurements led to the construction of a simple band model at the heterojunction interface. This model, based on the heterojunction components and band bending, enabled us to rationalize the photocatalytic enhancements and losses observed in MOF-based heterojunctions. Using the insight gained from a promising band bending diagram, we developed a Type II carbon nitride/MOF heterojunction with a 2-fold enhanced CO2 photoreduction activity compared to the physical mixture.
Bullen JC, Heiba HF, Kafizas A, et al., 2022, Parasitic light absorption, rate laws and heterojunctions in the photocatalytic oxidation of arsenic(III) using composite TiO2/Fe2O3, Chemistry: A European Journal, Vol: 28, ISSN: 0947-6539
Composite photocatalyst-adsorbents such as TiO2/Fe2O3 are promising materials for the one-step treatment of arsenite contaminated water. However, no previous study has investigated how coupling TiO2 with Fe2O3 influences the photocatalytic oxidation of arsenic(III). Herein, we develop new hybrid experiment/modelling approaches to study light absorption, charge carrier behaviour and changes in the rate law of the TiO2/Fe2O3 system, using UV-Vis spectroscopy, transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS), and kinetic analysis. Whilst coupling TiO2 with Fe2O3 improves total arsenic removal by adsorption, oxidation rates significantly decrease (up to a factor of 60), primarily due to the parasitic absorption of light by Fe2O3 (88% of photons at 368 nm) and secondly due to changes in the rate law from disguised zero-order kinetics to first-order kinetics. Charge transfer across this TiO2-Fe2O3 heterojunction is not observed. Our study demonstrates the first application of a multi-adsorbate surface complexation model (SCM) towards describing As(III) oxidation kinetics which, unlike Langmuir-Hinshelwood kinetics, includes the competitive adsorption of As(V), and we further highlight the importance of parasitic light absorption and catalyst fouling when designing heterogeneous photocatalysts for As(III) remediation.
Heiba HF, Bullen JC, Kafizas A, et al., 2022, The determination of oxidation rates and quantum yields during the photocatalytic oxidation of As(III) over TiO2, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, Vol: 424, Pages: 113628-113628, ISSN: 1010-6030
The determination of reaction rates for the photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) of arsenite (As(III)) using TiO2 under UV radiation is challenging due to the numerous experimental processes. This includes chemical processes running simultaneously with PCO (e.g. adsorption of arsenic species, direct UV photolysis of As(III)) and the analytical approach used (e.g. whether As(III) or As(V) are measured and used in the calculation of the PCO rate). The various experimental approaches used to date have led to oxidation rates and rate constants which vary by orders of magnitude and contradicting information on rate laws. Here we present the results of a critical examination of possible controls affecting the experimental determination of PCO rates. First, we demonstrate that the choice of analytical technique is not critical, provided that the rate constants are calculated based on the depletion of As(III) after correction of the directly adsorbed As(III). Second, we show the correction of the directly adsorbed As(III) at each time interval is best done by running two parallel experiments (one under UV and the other in dark) instead of running sequential experiment (i.e. running the experiment in the dark then turning on the UV lamp). These findings are supported by XPS analysis of the oxidation state of TiO2-sorbed As. Third, we demonstrate that photolysis by the light source itself, as well as the chemical composition of the solution (i.e. the effect of HEPES and the ionic strength), can significantly increase As(III) oxidation rates and need to be corrected. Finally, to determine the quantum yield of As(III) oxidation, we measured the photon absorption by the TiO2 photocatalyst. Our results showed that the quantum yield (Ø) for this oxidation reaction was low, and in the region of 0.1 to 0.2 %.
Pinto F, Wilson A, Moss B, et al., 2022, Systematic exploration of WO3/TiO2 heterojunction phase space for applications in photoelectrochemical water splitting, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C: Energy Conversion and Storage, Optical and Electronic Devices, Interfaces, Nanomaterials, and Hard Matter, Vol: 126, Pages: 871-884, ISSN: 1932-7447
Recent work has shown that heterojunction photoelectrodes can achieve synergistically higher water splitting activity than their parent materials. To optimize the performance in such layered systems, it is necessary to develop new methods capable of assessing heterojunction phase space. Herein, we explore WO3/TiO2 heterojunction phase space as a model system. Using chemical vapor deposition, 71 unique photoanodes were grown (15 single-layer; 56 heterojunctions). The materials were physically characterized using X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy analysis, and ultraviolet–visible transmission spectroscopy. Various key performance indicators were measured. Within this WO3/TiO2 heterojunction phase space, the onset potentials ranged from ∼0.45 to ∼0.81 VRHE; the incident-photon-to-current efficiencies at 350, 375, and 400 nm ranged from ∼0.6 to ∼50.9, ∼0.1 to ∼30.0, and ∼0 to ∼15.6%, respectively; and the theoretical solar photocurrents ranged from ∼0.01 to ∼0.94 mA cm–2. Contour plots allowed us to identify regions of heterojunction phase space with high activity and establish trends. We identified an electronic barrier to charge transfer between the heterojunction layers that required a sufficiently high applied potential (≥1.0 VRHE) to be surpassed for synergetic improvements in activity to be observed. We recommend that the methods developed herein, for assessing the performance of sample libraries of heterojunction photoelectrodes, be used alongside combinatorial synthesis methods and high-throughput photoelectrochemical measurements to optimize promising heterojunction systems more rigorously and rapidly.
Eisner F, Tam B, Belova V, et al., 2021, Color-tunable hybrid heterojunctions as semi-transparent photovoltaic windows for photoelectrochemical water splitting, Cell Reports Physical Science, Vol: 2, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 2666-3864
The strong but narrow-bandwidth absorption spectra of organic semiconductors make them excellent candidates for semi-transparent solar cell applications in which color specificity is important. In this study, using a hybrid heterojunction combining the transparent inorganic semiconductor copper thiocyanate (CuSCN) with organic semiconductors (C70, PC70BM, C60, ITIC, IT-4F, or Y6), we show that simple color-tunable solar cells can be fabricated in which the transmission spectrum is determined solely by choice of the organic semiconductor. Using a joint electrical-optical model, we show that it is possible to combine the unique attributes of high photovoltage and color tunability to use these heterojunctions as photovoltaic windows in tandem photoelectrochemical (PEC)-photovoltaic (PV) cells. We demonstrate that this configuration can lead to a reduction in the parasitic absorption losses in the PEC-PV cells and, thus, to solar-to-hydrogen efficiencies (>3%) that are higher than that predicted using the traditionally used architecture in which the PV is placed behind the PEC.
Moss B, Babacan O, Kafizas A, et al., 2021, A review of inorganic photoelectrode developments and reactor scale-up challenges for solar hydrogen production, Advanced Energy Materials, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-43, ISSN: 1614-6832
Green hydrogen, produced using solar energy, is a promising means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting devices can produce hydrogen using sunlight and integrate the distinct functions of photovoltaics and electrolyzers in a single device. There is flexibility in the degree of integration between these electrical and chemical energy generating components, and so a plethora of archetypal PEC device designs has emerged. Although some materials have effectively been ruled out for use in commercial PEC devices, many principles of material design and synthesis have been learned. Here, the fundamental requirements of PEC materials, the top performances of the most widely studied inorganic photoelectrode materials, and reactor structures reported for unassisted solar water splitting are revisited. The main phenomena limiting the performance of up‐scaled PEC devices are discussed, showing that engineering must be considered in parallel with material development for the future piloting of PEC water splitting systems. To establish the future commercial viability of this technology, more accurate techno‐economic analyses should be carried out using data from larger scale demonstrations, and hence more durable and efficient PEC systems need to be developed that meet the challenges imposed from both material and engineering perspectives.
Moss B, Wang Q, Butler K, et al., 2021, Linking in situ charge accumulation to electronic structure in doped SrTiO3 reveals design principles for hydrogen-evolving photocatalysts, Nature Materials, Vol: 20, Pages: 511-517, ISSN: 1476-1122
Recently, high solar-to-hydrogen efficiencies were demonstrated using La and Rh co-doped SrTiO3 (La,Rh:SrTiO3) incorporated into a low-cost and scalable Z-scheme device, known as a photocatalyst sheet. However, the unique properties that enable La,Rh:SrTiO3 to support this impressive performance are not fully understood. Combining in situ spectroelectrochemical measurements with density functional theory and photoelectron spectroscopy produces a depletion model of Rh:SrTiO3 and La,Rh:SrTiO3 photocatalyst sheets. This reveals remarkable properties, such as deep flatband potentials (+2 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode) and a Rh oxidation state dependent reorganization of the electronic structure, involving the loss of a vacant Rh 4d mid-gap state. This reorganization enables Rh:SrTiO3 to be reduced by co-doping without compromising the p-type character. In situ time-resolved spectroscopies show that the electronic structure reorganization induced by Rh reduction controls the electron lifetime in photocatalyst sheets. In Rh:SrTiO3, enhanced lifetimes can only be obtained at negative applied potentials, where the complete Z-scheme operates inefficiently. La co-doping fixes Rh in the 3+ state, which results in long-lived photogenerated electrons even at very positive potentials (+1 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode), in which both components of the complete device operate effectively. This understanding of the role of co-dopants provides a new insight into the design principles for water-splitting devices based on bandgap-engineered metal oxides.
Iqbal A, Kafizas A, Sotelo-Vazquez C, et al., 2021, Charge transport phenomena in heterojunction photocatalysts: the WO3/TiO2 system as an archetypical model., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 13, Pages: 9781-9793, ISSN: 1944-8244
Recent studies have demonstrated the high efficiency through which nanostructured core-shell WO3/TiO2 (WT) heterojunctions can photocatalytically degrade model organic pollutants (stearic acid, QE ≈ 18% @ λ = 365 nm), and as such, has varied potential environmental and antimicrobial applications. The key motivation herein is to connect theoretical calculations of charge transport phenomena, with experimental measures of charge carrier behavior using transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS), to develop a fundamental understanding of how such WT heterojunctions achieve high photocatalytic efficiency (in comparison to standalone WO3 and TiO2 photocatalysts). This work reveals an order of magnitude enhancement in electron and hole recombination lifetimes, respectively located in the TiO2 and WO3 sides, when an optimally designed WT heterojunction photocatalyst operates under UV excitation. This observation is further supported by our computationally captured details of conduction band and valence band processes, identified as (i) dominant electron transfer from WO3 to TiO2 via the diffusion of excess electrons; and (ii) dominant hole transfer from TiO2 to WO3 via thermionic emission over the valence band edge. Simultaneously, our combined theoretical and experimental study offers a time-resolved understanding of what occurs on the micro- to milliseconds (μs-ms) time scale in this archetypical photocatalytic heterojunction. At the microsecond time scale, a portion of the accumulated holes in WO3 contribute to the depopulation of W5+ polaronic states, whereas the remaining accumulated holes in WO3 are separated from adjacent electrons in TiO2 up to 3 ms after photoexcitation. The presence of these exceptionally long-lived photogenerated carriers, dynamically separated by the WT heterojunction, is the origin of the superior photocatalytic efficiency displayed by this system (in the degradation of stearic acid). Consequently, our combined computational and ex
Alotaibi AM, Promdet P, Hwang GB, et al., 2021, Zn and N codoped TiO2 thin films: photocatalytic and bactericidal activity., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 13, Pages: 10480-10489, ISSN: 1944-8244
We explore a series of Zn and N codoped TiO2 thin films grown using chemical vapor deposition. Films were prepared with various concentrations of Zn (0.4-2.9 at. % Zn vs Ti), and their impact on superoxide formation, photocatalytic activity, and bactericidal properties were determined. Superoxide (O2•-) formation was assessed using a 2,3-bis(2-methoxy-4-nitro-5-sulfophenyl)-5-[(phenylamino)carbonyl]-2H-tetrazolium sodium salt (XTT) as an indicator, photocatalytic activity was determined from the degradation of stearic acid under UVA light, and bactericidal activity was assessed using a Gram-negative bacterium E. coli under both UVA and fluorescent light (similar to what is found in a clinical environment). The 0.4% Zn,N:TiO2 thin film demonstrated the highest formal quantum efficiency in degrading stearic acid (3.3 × 10-5 molecules·photon-1), while the 1.0% Zn,N:TiO2 film showed the highest bactericidal activity under both UVA and fluorescent light conditions (>3 log kill). The enhanced efficiency of the films was correlated with increased charge carrier lifetime, supported by transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS) measurements.
Wilson AA, Corby S, Francas L, et al., 2021, The effect of nanoparticulate PdO co-catalysts on the faradaic and light conversion efficiency of WO3 photoanodes for water oxidation, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol: 23, Pages: 1285-1291, ISSN: 1463-9076
WO3 photoanodes offer rare stability in acidic media, but are limited by their selectivity for oxygen evolution over parasitic side reactions, when employed in photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. Herein, this is remedied via the modification of nanostructured WO3 photoanodes with surface decorated PdO as an oxygen evolution co-catalyst (OEC). The photoanodes and co-catalyst particles are grown using an up-scalable aerosol assisted chemical vapour deposition (AA-CVD) route, and their physical properties characterised by X-ray diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) and UV-vis absorption spectroscopy. Subsequent PEC and transient photocurrent (TPC) measurements showed that the use of a PdO co-catalyst dramatically increases the faradaic efficiency (FE) of water oxidation from 52% to 92%, whilst simultaneously enhancing the photocurrent generation and charge extraction rate. The Pd oxidation state was found to be critical in achieving these notable improvements to the photoanode performance, which is primarily attributed to the higher selectivity towards oxygen evolution when PdO is used as an OEC and the formation of a favourable junction between WO3 and PdO, that drives band bending and charge separation.
Vernardou D, Drosos C, Kafizas A, et al., 2020, Towards High Performance Chemical Vapour Deposition V2O5 Cathodes for Batteries Employing Aqueous Media, Molecules, Vol: 25, ISSN: 1420-3049
The need for clean and efficient energy storage has become the center of attention due to the eminent global energy crisis and growing ecological concerns. A key component in this effort is the ultra-high performance battery, which will play a major role in the energy industry. To meet the demands in portable electronic devices, electric vehicles, and large-scale energy storage systems, it is necessary to prepare advanced batteries with high safety, fast charge ratios, and discharge capabilities at a low cost. Cathode materials play a significant role in determining the performance of batteries. Among the possible electrode materials is vanadium pentoxide, which will be discussed in this review, due to its low cost and high theoretical capacity. Additionally, aqueous electrolytes, which are environmentally safe, provide an alternative approach compared to organic media for safe, cost-effective, and scalable energy storage. In this review, we will reveal the industrial potential of competitive methods to grow cathodes with excellent stability and enhanced electrochemical performance in aqueous media and lay the foundation for the large-scale production of electrode materials.
Bullen J, Kenney J, Fearn S, et al., 2020, Improved accuracy in multicomponent surface complexation models using surface-sensitive analytical techniques: adsorption of arsenic onto a TiO2/Fe2O3 multifunctional sorbent, Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol: 580, Pages: 834-849, ISSN: 0021-9797
Many novel composite materials have been recently developed for water treatment applications, with the aim of achieving multifunctional behaviour, e.g. combining adsorption with light-driven remediation. The application of surface complexation models (SCM) is important to understand how adsorption changes as a function of pH, ionic strength and the presence of competitor ions. Component additive (CA) models describe composite sorbents using a combination of single-phase reference materials. However, predictive adsorption modelling using the CA-SCM approach remains unreliable, due to challenges in the quantitative determination of surface composition. In this study, we test the hypothesis that characterisation of the outermost surface using low energy ion scattering (LEIS) improves CA-SCM accuracy. We consider the TiO2/Fe2O3 photocatalyst-sorbents that are increasingly investigated for arsenic remediation. Due to an iron oxide surface coating that was not captured by bulk analysis, LEIS significantly improves the accuracy of our component additive predictions for monolayer surface processes: adsorption of arsenic(V) and surface acidity. We also demonstrate non-component additivity in multilayer arsenic(III) adsorption, due to changes in surface morphology/porosity. Our results demonstrate how surface-sensitive analytical techniques will improve adsorption modelling for the next generation of composite sorbents.
Alqahtani M, Kafizas A, Sathasivam S, et al., 2020, A hierarchical 3D TiO2 /Ni nanostructure as an efficient hole-extraction and protection layer for GaAs photoanodes, ChemSusChem: chemistry and sustainability, energy and materials, Vol: 13, Pages: 6028-6036, ISSN: 1864-5631
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is a promising clean route to hydrogen fuel. The best-performing materials (III/V semiconductors) require surface passivation, as they are liable to corrosion, and a surface co-catalyst to facilitate water splitting. At present, optimal design combining photoelectrodes with oxygen evolution catalysts remains a significant materials challenge. Here, we demonstrate that nickel-coated amorphous three-dimensional (3D) TiO2 core-shell nanorods on a TiO2 thin film function as an efficient hole-extraction layer and serve as a protection layer for the GaAs photoanode. Transient-absorption spectroscopy (TAS) demonstrated the role of nickel-coated (3D) TiO2 core-shell nanorods in prolonging photogenerated charge lifetimes in GaAs, resulting in a higher catalytic activity. This strategy may open the potential of utilizing this low-cost (3D) nanostructured catalyst for decorating narrow-band-gap semiconductor photoanodes for PEC water splitting devices.
Moss B, Le H, Corby S, et al., 2020, Anisotropic electron transport limits performance of Bi2WO6 photoanodes, The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, Vol: 124, Pages: 18859-18867, ISSN: 1932-7447
Bi2WO6 is one of the simplest members of the versatile Aurivillius oxide family of materials. As an intriguing model system for Aurivillius oxides, BiVO4 exhibits low water oxidation onset potentials (∼0.5–0.6 VRHE) for driven solar water oxidation. Despite this, Bi2WO6 also produces low photocurrents in comparison to other metal oxides. Due to a lack of in situ studies, the reasons for such poor performance are not understood. In this study, Bi2WO6 photoanodes are synthesized by aerosol-assisted chemical vapor deposition. The charge carrier dynamics of Bi2WO6 are studied in situ under water oxidation conditions, and the rate of both bulk recombination and water oxidation is found to be comparable to other metal oxide photoanodes. However, the rate of electron extraction is at least 10 times slower than the slowest kinetics previously reported in an oxide photoanode. First-principles analysis indicates that the slow electron extraction kinetics are linked to a strong anisotropy in the conduction band. Preferred or epitaxial growth along the conductive axes is a strategy to overcome slow electron transport and low photocurrent densities in layered materials such as Bi2WO6.
Li J, McColl K, Lu X, et al., 2020, Multi-scale investigations of delta-Ni0.25V2O5 center dot nH(2)O cathode materials in aqueous Zinc-Ion batteries, Advanced Energy Materials, Vol: 10, Pages: 1-14, ISSN: 1614-6832
Cost‐effective and environment‐friendly aqueous zinc‐ion batteries (AZIBs) exhibit tremendous potential for application in grid‐scale energy storage systems but are limited by suitable cathode materials. Hydrated vanadium bronzes have gained significant attention for AZIBs and can be produced with a range of different pre‐intercalated ions, allowing their properties to be optimized. However, gaining a detailed understanding of the energy storage mechanisms within these cathode materials remains a great challenge due to their complex crystallographic frameworks, limiting rational design from the perspective of enhanced Zn2+ diffusion over multiple length scales. Herein, a new class of hydrated porous δ‐Ni0.25V2O5.nH2O nanoribbons for use as an AZIB cathode is reported. The cathode delivers reversibility showing 402 mAh g−1 at 0.2 A g−1 and a capacity retention of 98% over 1200 cycles at 5 A g−1. A detailed investigation using experimental and computational approaches reveal that the host “δ” vanadate lattice has favorable Zn2+ diffusion properties, arising from the atomic‐level structure of the well‐defined lattice channels. Furthermore, the microstructure of the as‐prepared cathodes is examined using multi‐length scale X‐ray computed tomography for the first time in AZIBs and the effective diffusion coefficient is obtained by image‐based modeling, illustrating favorable porosity and satisfactory tortuosity.
Alotaibi AM, Williamson BAD, Sathasivam SS, et al., 2020, Enhanced photocatalytic and antibacterial ability of Cu-doped anatase TiO2 thin films: theory and experiment., ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, Vol: 12, Pages: 15348-15361, ISSN: 1944-8244
Multifunctional thin films which can display both photocatalytic and antibacterial activity are of great interest industrially. Here, for the first time, we have used aerosol assisted chemical vapour deposition (AACVD) to deposit highly photoactive thin films of Cu-doped anatase TiO2 on glass substrates. The films displayed much enhanced photocatalytic activity relative to pure anatase, and showed excellent antibacterial (vs S.Aureus and E.Coli) ability. Using a combination of transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS), photoluminescence (PL) measurements and hybrid density functional theory calculations, we have gained nanoscopic insights into the improved properties of the Cu-doped TiO2 films. Our analysis has highlighted that the interactions between substitutional and interstitial Cu in the anatase lattice can explain the extended exciton lifetimes observed in the doped samples, and the enhanced UV/visible light photoactivities observed.
Hwang GB, Huang H, Wu G, et al., 2020, Photobactericidal activity activated by thiolated gold nanoclusters at low flux levels of white light, Nature Communications, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2041-1723
The emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a major threat to the practice of modern medicine. Photobactericidal agents have obtained significant attention as promising candidates to kill bacteria, and they have been extensively studied. However, to obtain photobactericidal activity, an intense white light source or UV-activation is usually required. Here we report a photobactericidal polymer containing crystal violet (CV) and thiolated gold nanocluster ([Au25(Cys)18]) activated at a low flux levels of white light. It was shown that the polymer encapsulated with CV do not have photobactericidal activity under white light illumination of an average 312 lux. However, encapsulation of [Au25(Cys)18] and CV into the polymer activates potent photobactericidal activity. The study of the photobactericidal mechanism shows that additional encapsulation of [Au25(Cys)18] into the CV treated polymer promotes redox reactions through generation of alternative electron transfer pathways, while it reduces photochemical reaction type-ІІ pathways resulting in promotion of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production.
Drosos C, Moss B, Kafizas A, et al., 2020, V2O5 as magnesium cathode material with extended cyclic stability, Journal of Electrochemical Science and Engineering, Vol: 10, Pages: 257-262, ISSN: 1847-9286
In this work, the electrochemical performance of aerosol-assisted chemical vapour depositedvanadium pentoxide cathodes at 600 °C, is presented. The as-grown oxides indicate specificdischarge capacity of 300 mA h g-1 with capacity retention of 92 % after 10000 scans,coulombic efficiency of 100 %, noble structural stability and high reversibility. The presentstudy shows the possibility to grow large-area magnesium cathode material with extendedcycle stability via utilization of an aqueous electrolyte under a corrosive environment. Thisenhanced performance may be a combination of electrode morphology and adherence, whencompared to previous work employing electrode growth temperature at 500 °C.
Corby S, Francàs L, Kafizas A, et al., 2020, Determining the role of oxygen vacancies in the photoelectrocatalytic performance of WO3 for water oxidation, Chemical Science, Vol: 11, Pages: 2907-2914, ISSN: 2041-6520
Oxygen vacancies are common to most metal oxides, whether intentionally incorporated or otherwise, and the study of these defects is of increasing interest for solar water splitting. In this work, we examine nanostructured WO3 photoanodes of varying oxygen content to determine how the concentration of bulk oxygen-vacancy states affects the photocatalytic performance for water oxidation. Using transient optical spectroscopy, we follow the charge carrier recombination kinetics in these samples, from picoseconds to seconds, and examine how differing oxygen vacancy concentrations impact upon these kinetics. We find that samples with an intermediate concentration of vacancies (∼2% of oxygen atoms) afford the greatest photoinduced charge carrier densities, and the slowest recombination kinetics across all timescales studied. This increased yield of photogenerated charges correlates with improved photocurrent densities under simulated sunlight, with both greater and lesser oxygen vacancy concentrations resulting in enhanced recombination losses and poorer J–V performances. Our conclusion, that an optimal – neither too high nor too low – concentration of oxygen vacancies is required for optimum photoelectrochemical performance, is discussed in terms of the competing beneficial and detrimental impact these defects have on charge separation and transport, as well as the implications held for other highly doped materials for photoelectrochemical water oxidation.
Mesa Zamora C, Francas Forcada L, Yang KR, et al., 2020, Multihole water oxidation catalysis on hematite photoanodes revealed by operando spectroelectrochemistry and DFT, Nature Chemistry, Vol: 12, Pages: 82-89, ISSN: 1755-4330
Water oxidation is the key kinetic bottle neck of photoelectrochemical devices for fuel synthesis. Despite advances in the identification of intermediates, elucidating the catalytic mechanism of this multi-redox reactionon metal-oxidephotoanodes remains a significant experimental and theoretical challenge. Here we report an experimental analysis of water oxidation kinetics on four widely studied metal oxides, focusing particularly upon hematite.We observe that hematite is able toaccess a reaction mechanism third order in surface hole density, assigned to equilibration between three surface holes and M(OH)-O-M(OH) sites. This reaction exhibits a remarkably low activation energy (Ea~ 60 meV). Density functional theory is employedto determine the energetics of charge accumulation and O-O bond formation on a modelhematite 110 surface. The proposed mechanism shows parallels with the function of oxygen evolving complex of photosystem II,and provides new insights to the mechanism of heterogeneous water oxidation on a metal oxide surface.
Selim S, Pastor E, García-Tecedor M, et al., 2019, Impact of oxygen vacancy occupancy on charge carrier dynamics in BiVO4 photoanodes, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol: 141, Pages: 18791-18798, ISSN: 0002-7863
Oxygen vacancies are ubiquitous in metal oxides and critical to performance, yet the impact of these states upon charge carrier dynamics important for photoelectrochemical and photocatalytic applications, remains contentious and poorly understood. A key challenge is the unambiguous identification of spectroscopic fingerprints which can be used to track their function. Herein, we employ five complementary techniques to modulate the electronic occupancy of states associated with oxygen vacancies in situ in BiVO4 photoanodes, allowing us to identify a spectral signature for the ionisation of these states. We obtain an activation energy of ̴ 0.2 eV for this ionisation process, with thermally activated electron de-trapping from these states determining the kinetics of electron extraction, consistent with improved photoelectrochemical performance at higher temperatures. Bulk, un-ionised states however, function as deep hole traps, with such trapped holes being energetically unable to drive water oxidation. These observations help address recent controversies in the literature over oxygen vacancy function, providing new insights into their impact upon photoelectrochemical performance.
Corby S, Pastor E, Dong Y, et al., 2019, Charge separation, band-bending, and recombination in WO3 photoanodes, Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, Vol: 10, Pages: 5395-5401, ISSN: 1948-7185
In metal oxide-based photoelectrochemical devices, the spatial separation of photogenerated electrons and holes is typically attributed to band-bending at the oxide/electrolyte interface. However, direct evidence of such band-bending impacting upon charge carrier lifetimes has been very limited to date. Herein we use ultrafast spectroscopy to track the rapid relaxation of holes in the space-charge layer and their recombination with trapped electrons in WO3 photoanodes. We observe that applied bias can significantly increase carrier lifetimes on all time scales from picoseconds to seconds and attribute this to enhanced band-bending correlated with changes in oxygen vacancy state occupancy. We show that analogous enhancements in carrier lifetimes can be obtained by changes in electrolyte composition, even in the absence of applied bias, highlighting routes to improve photoconversion yields/performance, through changes in band-bending. This study thus demonstrates the direct connection between carrier lifetime enhancement, increased band-bending, and oxygen vacancy defect state occupancy.
Jiamprasertboon A, Kafizas A, Sachs M, et al., 2019, Heterojunction α-Fe2O3/ZnO films with enhanced photocatalytic properties grown by aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition., Chemistry - A European Journal, Vol: 25, Pages: 11337-11345, ISSN: 0947-6539
Type-I heterojunction films of α-Fe2O3/ZnO are reported herein as a non-titania based photocatalyst that shows remarkable enhancement in the photocatalytic properties towards stearic acid degradation under UVA light exposure (λ = 365 nm), with a quantum efficiency of ξ = 4.42 ± 1.54 × 10-4 molecules degraded/photon, which was about 16 times greater than that of α-Fe2O3, and 2.5 times greater than that of ZnO. As the degradation of stearic acid requires 104 electron transfers for each molecule, this represents an overall quantum efficiency of 4.60% for the α-Fe2O3/ZnO heterojunction. Time-resolved transient absorption spectroscopy (TAS) revealed the charge carrier behavior responsible for this increase in activity. Photogenerated electrons, formed in the ZnO layer, were transferred into the α-Fe2O3 layer on the pre-µs timescale, which reduced electron-hole recombination. This increased the lifetime of photogenerated holes formed in ZnO that oxidise stearic acid. The heterojunction α-Fe2O3/ZnO films grown herein show potential environmental applications as coatings for self-cleaning windows and surfaces.
Sachs M, Park JS, Pastor E, et al., 2019, Effect of oxygen deficiency on the excited state kinetics of WO3 and implications for photocatalysis, Chemical Science, Vol: 10, Pages: 5667-5677, ISSN: 2041-6520
Oxygen vacancies are widely used to tune the light absorption of semiconducting metal oxides, but a photophysical framework describing the impact of such point defects on the dynamics of photogenerated charges, and ultimately on catalysis, is still missing. We herein use WO3 as a model material and investigate the impact of significantly different degrees of oxygen deficiency on its excited state kinetics. For highly oxygen-deficient films, photoelectron spectroscopy shows an over 2 eV broad distribution of oxygen vacancy states within the bandgap which gives rise to extended visible light absorption. We examine the nature of this distribution using first-principles defect calculations and find that defects aggregate to form clusters rather than isolated vacancy sites. Using transient absorption spectroscopy, we observe trapping of photogenerated holes within 200 fs after excitation at high degrees of oxygen deficiency, which increases their lifetime at the expense of oxidative driving force. This loss in driving force limits the use of metal oxides with significant degrees of sub-stoichiometry to photocatalytic reactions that require low oxidation power such as pollutant degradation, and highlights the need to fine-tune vacancy state distributions for specific target reactions.
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