A metal-insulator-semiconductor (MIS) structure based on an inhomogeneous junction has been recently proven to be highly efficient at photoelectrochemical (PEC) water oxidation. Engineering the surrounding layer of the MIS nanojunction is crucial to maximize the photovoltage. Specifically, for an n-type photoanode, a high work-function material is desired to create a large Schottky barrier that assists the hole transfer to oxidize water while blocking the electron transfer. We demonstrate the use of copper(I) thiocyanate (CuSCN), a transparent p-type coordination polymer semiconductor with a high work function, to surround the n-Si/SiOx/Cu nanojunctions, resulting in an increased effective barrier height from 0.71 to 1.03 eV. This phenomenon, known as the pinch-off effect, is also applied to improve the performance of the planar n-Si/SiOx/Cu electrode via a PEC dissolution method that creates an inhomogeneous surface covered with CuOx. The Cu/CuSCN nanojunction still shows superior performance due to the favorable energetics of CuSCN.
The NRCT grant number is corrected to N42A650255 based on the updated information from the funding source.