Band engineering is thoroughly employed nowadays targeting technologically scalable photoanodes for solar water splitting applications. Most often complex and costly recipes are necessary, for average performances. Here we report very simple photoanode growth and thermal annealing, with effective band engineering results. Strongly enhanced photocurrent, of more than 200 %, is measured for Ti-doped hematite nanorods grown from aqueous solutions and annealed under Nitrogen atmosphere, compared to air annealed ones. Oxidized surface states and increased density of charge carriers are found responsible for the enhanced photoelectrochemical activity, as shown by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and synchrotron X-rays spectromicroscopies. They are found related to oxygen vacancies, acting as n-dopants, and the formation of pseudo-brookite clusters by surface Ti segregation. Spectro-ptychography is used for the first time at Ti L3 absorption edge to isolate Ti chemical coordination arising from pseudo-brookite clusters contribution. Correlated with electron microscopy investigation and Density Functional Theory (DFT) calculations, our data unambiguously prove the origin of the enhanced photoelectrochemical activity of N2-annealed Ti-doped hematite nanorods. Finally, we present here a handy and cheap surface engineering method beyond the known oxygen vacancy doping, allowing a net gain in the photoelectrochemical activity for the hematite-based photoanodes.
Intrinsic photoanode band engineering: enhanced solar water splitting efficiency mediated by surface segregation in Ti-doped hematite nanorods
Hyperspectral shadow XPEEM data
Spectro-ptychography hyperspectral data