Photoelectrodes capable of cost-effective hydrogen production on a large scale, via photoelectrochemical water splitting under solar light, could offer an elegant solution to many current problems of humankind caused by over-reliance on fossil fuels and the resulting environmental pollution. The search and design of low-cost photoelectrode materials and substrates for practical applications are required. In this work, unmodified hematite photoanodes grown by metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MO-CVD) onto CuO–Sb2O5–SnO2 ceramic substrates are reported. The deposition time of hematite precursor varied between 10 min, 60 min, and 90 min. The photoanode grown for 60 min exhibits the highest photocurrent density recorded at 1.23 V vs RHE (reversible hydrogen electrode): 4.79 mA/cm2 under blue light of Thorlabs LED M455L2 (455 nm), 0.41 mA/cm2 under the radiation of the real sun in Mexico, and 0.38 mA/cm2 under AM1.5G solar simulator conditions. The high porosity of CuO–Sb2O5–SnO2 ceramics permits the permeation of the hematite precursor into the substrate bulk, which results in 3D-growth of a thin Fe2O3-coating (50 nm or less) on conductive SnO2-grains in the ceramics to a depth of ca. 5 μm. The thick photocatalytic layer (SnO2-grains coated by hematite) of several micrometers assures a good light harvesting by the photoelectrode, while the nano-sized Fe2O3-films on conductive SnO2-grains is favorable for charge diffusion. This architecture of the photoelectrode results in good photoelectrochemical characteristics and is promising for further development.
- Solar energy
- Tin-dioxide ceramics
- Water splitting
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films