Contrasting Transient Photocurrent Characteristics for Thin Films of Vacuum-Doped “Grey” TiO2 and “Grey” Nb2O5

Moisés A. Araújo, Murilo F. Gromboni, Frank Marken, Stephen Parker, Laurence Peter, Josh Turner, Helen C. Aspinall, Kate Black, Lucia Mascaro

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Photo-catalytic performance for oxide films, here for inkjet-printed TiO2 (ca. 1 μm thickness on FTO) and for spray-pyrolysis-coated Nb2O5 (ca. 1 μm thickness on FTO), is affected by oxygen vacancies that form during vacuum-heat treatment at 550 °C. The effects of the oxygen vacancies are associated with formation of Ti(III) and Nb(IV) sites, respectively, and therefore optically visible as “grey” coloration. Photo-electrochemical light-on-off transient experiments are performed in the limit of thin film photoanodes, where front and back illumination result in the same photo-current responses (i.e. with negligible effects from internal light absorption gradients). It is shown that generally the magnitude of photo-currents correlates linearly with light intensity, which is indicative of dominant “photo-capacitive” behaviour. At an applied voltage of 0.4 V vs. SCE (in the plateau region of the photo-current responses) the potential and also the pH (going from 1.0 M KOH to 0.1 M HClO4 in the presence of methanol quencher) have no significant effect on photo-currents; that is, surface chemical/kinetic effects appear to be unimportant and interfacial hole transfer may be rate limiting. Under these conditions (and based on a simplistic mechanistic model) changes in photo-currents introduced by oxygen vacancy doping (detrimental for TiO2 and beneficial for Nb2O5) are assigned primarily to changes in electron mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-352
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date24 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018


  • Digital simulation
  • Photosynthesis
  • Thin film oxide
  • Transient
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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