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  • Journal article
    Tam B, Babacan O, Kafizas A, Nelson Jet al., 2024,

    Comparing the net-energy balance of standalone photovoltaic-coupled electrolysis and photoelectrochemical hydrogen production

    , Energy and Environmental Science, ISSN: 1754-5692

    Photovoltaic-coupled electrolysis (PV-E) and photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting are two options for storing solar energy as hydrogen. Understanding the requirements for achieving a positive energy balance over the lifetime of facilities using these technologies is important for ensuring sustainability. While neither technology has yet reached full commercialisation, they are also at very different technology readiness levels and scales of development. Here, we model the energy balance of standalone large-scale facilities to evaluate their energy return on energy invested (ERoEI) over time and energy payback time (EPBT). We find that for average input parameters based on present commercialised modules, a PV-E facility shows an EPBT of 6.2 years and ERoEI after 20 years of 2.1, which rises to approximately 3.7 with an EPBT of 2.7 years for favourable parameters using the best metrics amongst large-scale modules. The energy balance of PV-E facilities is influenced most strongly by the upfront embodied energy costs of the photovoltaic component. In contrast, the simulated ERoEI for a PEC facility made with earth abundant materials only peaks at 0.42 after 11 years and about 0.71 after 20 years for facilities with higher-performance active materials. Doubling the conversion efficiency to 10% and halving the degradation rate to 2% for a 10-year device lifetime can allow PEC facilities to achieve an ERoEI after 20 years of 2.1 for optimistic future parameters. We also estimate that recycling the materials used in hydrogen production technologies improves the energy balance by 28% and 14% for favourable-case PV-E and PEC water splitting facilities, respectively.

  • Journal article
    Yang G, Zhou Y, Wang M, Murawski J, Oldham L, Tian T, Stephens IEL, Kafizas Aet al., 2023,

    Elucidating the effect of nitrogen occupancy on the hydrogen evolution reaction for a series of titanium oxynitride electrocatalysts

    , ChemCatChem, Vol: 15, ISSN: 1867-3880

    Titanium nitride (TiN) shows desirable properties for use as an electrocatalyst and catalyst support, as it possesses high electrical conductivity and excellent corrosion resistance. Any oxygen and humidity present or incomplete nitridation during the synthesis process of nitrides can lead to an increasing oxygen content. However, the role of oxygen contents or nitrogen occupancies in the bulk of the nitrides during the electrocatalytic reactions is not well understood. In this work, we have synthesised a series of titanium oxynitrides with varied bulk nitrogen occupancies by ammonolysis at different temperatures. Higher ammonolysis temperatures will give a higher nitrogen occupancy but result in a lower surface area. The geometric activities towards the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) have been normalised by the electrochemically active surface areas (ECSA) and the BET surface areas to get the specific activities. Their specific activity towards the HER is found to be strongly correlated with the bulk nitrogen occupancy and a higher bulk nitrogen occupancy is beneficial to the specific HER activities.

  • Journal article
    Wilson AA, Shalvey TP, Kafizas A, Mumtaz A, Durrant JRet al., 2023,

    Analysis of charge trapping and long lived hole generation in SrTiO<sub>3</sub> photoanodes

    , SUSTAINABLE ENERGY & FUELS, Vol: 7, Pages: 5066-5075, ISSN: 2398-4902

    Charge carrier dynamics studies of SrTiO3 under applied bias offer the opportunity to gain unique insights into what underpins its state-of-the-art photocatalytic water splitting activity. Herein, time resolved spectroscopic measurements are employed, to investigate the impact of applied bias on the transient and steady state charge carrier dynamics of SrTiO3 across μs–s timescales, and simultaneously measure charge extraction kinetics. A high density of Ti3+ defect states in SrTiO3 photoanodes are identified and associated with prevalent electron trapping into deep states, which is in competition with electron extraction and limits the photocurrent. Despite the high density of trapped electrons, an intrinsically long lifetime for photogenerated holes in SrTiO3 photoanodes is observed using transient absorption spectroscopy, even in the absence of applied bias. This is important for overcoming the slow kinetics and hole accumulation associated with the water oxidation reaction, and for enabling good performance in photocatalytic systems where bias cannot be applied.

  • Journal article
    Quan Y, YiO MHN, Li Y, Myers RJ, Kafizas Aet 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.

  • Journal article
    Meng Z, Pastor E, Selim S, Ning H, Maimaris M, Kafizas A, Durrant JR, Bakulin AAet al., 2023,

    Operando IR optical control of localized charge carriers in BiVO4 photoanodes

    , Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol: 145, Pages: 17700-17709, ISSN: 0002-7863

    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.

  • Journal article
    Wang M, Kafizas A, Sathasivam S, Blunt MO, Moss B, Gonzalez-Carrero S, Carmalt CJet al., 2023,

    ZnO/BiOI heterojunction photoanodes with enhanced photoelectrochemical water oxidation activity

    , Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, Vol: 331, ISSN: 0926-3373

    ZnO/BiOI heterojunction photoanode thin films were prepared by aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition, and the impact of growth temperature and film thickness on the water oxidation functionality was systematically investigated. A top ZnO layer with a thickness of 120 nm (deposited at 350 °C) and a 390 nm thick BiOI layer (deposited at 300 °C) were found to achieve the best photoelectrochemical performance of the heterojunction. The ZnO/BiOI heterojunction exhibited a significant increase in photoelectrochemical activity, with a photocurrent of 0.27 mA·cm−2 observed at 1.1 VRHE (350 nm, 2.58 mW·cm−2), which is ~ 2.2 times higher than that of single-layer ZnO and far higher than that of BiOI. Photoluminescence spectroscopy and transient absorption spectroscopy measurements showed that there was effective charge transfer across the heterojunction which spatially separated charge carriers and increased their lifetime and ability to drive photoelectrochemical water oxidation.

  • Journal article
    Nasser SMT, Rana AA, Doffinger R, Kafizas A, Khan TA, Nasser Set al., 2023,

    Elevated free interleukin-18 associated with severity and mortality in prospective cohort study of 206 hospitalised COVID-19 patients

    , Intensive Care Medicine Experimental, Vol: 11, ISSN: 2197-425X

    BackgroundDivergence between deterioration to life-threatening COVID-19 or clinical improvement occurs for most within the first 14 days of symptoms. Life-threatening COVID-19 shares clinical similarities with Macrophage Activation Syndrome, which can be driven by elevated Free Interleukin-18 (IL-18) due to failure of negative-feedback release of IL-18 binding protein (IL-18bp). We, therefore, designed a prospective, longitudinal cohort study to examine IL-18 negative-feedback control in relation to COVID-19 severity and mortality from symptom day 15 onwards.Methods662 blood samples, matched to time from symptom onset, from 206 COVID-19 patients were analysed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for IL-18 and IL-18bp, enabling calculation of free IL-18 (fIL-18) using the updated dissociation constant (Kd) of 0.05 nmol. Adjusted multivariate regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between highest fIL-18 and outcome measures of COVID-19 severity and mortality. Re-calculated fIL-18 values from a previously studied healthy cohort are also presented.ResultsRange of fIL-18 in COVID-19 cohort was 10.05–1157.7 pg/ml. Up to symptom day 14, mean fIL-18 levels increased in all patients. Levels in survivors declined thereafter, but remained elevated in non-survivors. Adjusted regression analysis from symptom day 15 onwards showed a 100 mmHg decrease in PaO2/FiO2 (primary outcome) for each 37.7 pg/ml increase in highest fIL-18 (p < 0.03). Per 50 pg/ml increase in highest fIL-18, adjusted logistic regression gave an odds-ratio (OR) for crude 60-day mortality of 1.41 (1.1–2.0) (p < 0.03), and an OR for death with hypoxaemic respiratory failure of 1.90 [1.3–3.1] (p < 0.01). Highest fIL-18 was associated also with organ failure in patients with hypoxaemic respiratory failure, with an increase of 63.67 pg/ml for every additional organ supported (p < 0.01).ConclusionsElevated free IL-

  • Journal article
    Anagnostopoulou M, Zindrou A, Cottineau T, Kafizas A, Marchal C, Deligiannakis Y, Keller V, Christoforidis KCet al., 2023,

    MOF-Derived Defective Co3O4 Nanosheets in Carbon Nitride Nanocomposites for CO2 Photoreduction and H2 Production

    , ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, Vol: 15, Pages: 6817-6830, ISSN: 1944-8244
  • Journal article
    Jiamprasertboon A, Kafizas A, Hawkins E, Singsen S, Butburee T, Wannapaiboon S, Sangkhun W, Nijpanich S, Eknapakul T, Chanlek N, Waehayee A, Suthirakun S, Siritanon Tet al., 2023,

    Photocatalytic NOₓ oxidation of BiOCl nanostructure-based films grown using aerosol-assisted chemical vapor deposition

    , ACS Applied Nano Material, Vol: 6, Pages: 738-749, ISSN: 2574-0970

    Coating of photocatalytic nanomaterials on various surfaces enables interesting applications. This work demonstrates the ability of the aerosol-assisted chemical vapor deposition (AACVD) approach to prepare high-quality BiOCl nanostructure-based films and also to tune the nanostructure and photocatalytic properties of the films by varying the solvent and carrier gas. Solvents have a dramatic impact on the surface morphologies and crystallite size. X-ray diffraction (XRD) and grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (GIXRD) analyses indicate that BiOCl crystals displayed preferential growth in the (101) plane in most samples, while both the (101) and (102) planes were favored in films deposited using ethyl acetate and methanol. Surface energy and adsorption energy calculation reveal that the preferred growth depends on the interaction between the Bi atom and solvent molecules. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) characterizations showed that all films did not contain any impurity elements but did contain some oxygen vacancies. The obtained nanostructured BiOCl films show good photocatalytic properties. The highest photocatalytic NOx removal efficiency is achieved in the film prepared using ethyl acetate and air, which we attribute to the large crystallite size and therefore high mobility of the carriers. Herein, we show that different crystal morphologies and sizes of BiOCl have strong impacts on the photocatalytic activity toward NO oxidation, and both factors can be effectively tuned in the AACVD process. Such knowledge may be useful for future research on coating materials for resolving environmental problems.

  • Journal article
    Wong Y, Li Y, Lin Z, Kafizas Aet 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.

  • Journal article
    Schukraft GEM, Moss B, Kafizas AG, Petit Cet 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.

  • Journal article
    Bullen JC, Heiba HF, Kafizas A, Weiss DJet 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.

  • Journal article
    Heiba HF, Bullen JC, Kafizas A, Petit C, Skinner SJ, Weiss Det 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 %.

  • Journal article
    Pinto F, Wilson A, Moss B, Kafizas Aet 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.

  • Journal article
    Eisner F, Tam B, Belova V, Ow W, Yan J, Azzouzi M, Kafizas A, Campoy-Quiles M, Hankin A, Nelson Jet 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.

  • Journal article
    Moss B, Babacan O, Kafizas A, Hankin Aet 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.

  • Journal article
    Moss B, Wang Q, Butler K, Grau-Crespo R, Selim S, Regoutz A, Hisatomi T, Godin R, Payne D, Kafizas A, Domen K, Steier L, Durrant Jet 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.

  • Journal article
    Iqbal A, Kafizas A, Sotelo-Vazquez C, Wilson R, Ling M, Taylor A, Blackman C, Bevan K, Parkin I, Quesada-Cabrera Ret 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

  • Journal article
    Alotaibi AM, Promdet P, Hwang GB, Li J, Nair SP, Sathasivam S, Kafizas A, Carmalt CJ, Parkin IPet 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.

  • Journal article
    Wilson AA, Corby S, Francas L, Durrant JR, Kafizas Aet 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.

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