Tuning of reduced graphene oxide thin film as an efficient electron conductive interlayer in a proven heterojunction photoanode for solar-driven photoelectrochemical water splitting

Chong Siang Yaw, Wen Cai Ng, Qiushi Ruan, Junwang Tang, Ai Kah Soh, Meng Nan Chong

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    Abstract

    Although bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) has shown excellent photoelectrochemical (PEC) properties and is a good candidate of photoanode materials, the solar-driven PEC water splitting performance is still remained below its full potential due to the fast recombination and sluggish charge mobility of photogenerated charge carriers. Previously, we have communicated a proven Type II staggered vanadium pentoxide (V2O5)/BiVO4 heterojunction photoanode that could improve the photocurrent density. This study aimed to examine the effect of introducing an rGO thin film as an efficient electron conductive interlayer in a proven V2O5/BiVO4 heterojunction photoanode, and subsequently tuning the rGO film thickness in achieving the optimum PEC performance. The resultant ternary photoanode structure of V2O5/rGO/BiVO4 was characterised by using field emission-scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), high resolution-transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM), UV–vis spectroscopy, X-ray diffractometer (XRD), Raman spectroscopy and photoluminescence (PL) measurements. Results showed that the interlayer rGO thin film arising from the sequential drop cast and electrochemical reduction of 320 μL ultrasonicated GO solution resulted in the optimal photocurrent density of 2.1 mA/cm2 at 1.5 V vs. Ag/AgCl. Furthermore, the chemical physics surrounding the photogenerated charge carrier transfer for heterojunction V2O5/BiVO4 was validated for the structure with and without the rGO interlayer. In particular, the electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) was used to measure multiple resistances at the FTO/semiconductor, semiconductor/semiconductor and semiconductor/electrolyte interfaces. Additionally, the charge transfer (Kt) and recombination (Kr) rate constants for the heterojunction V2O5/BiVO4 with the rGO interlayer were quantified using intensity modulated photocurrent spectroscopy (IMPS). Finally, the PEC H2 evolution rate from the ternary V2O5/rGO/BiVO4 photoanode was measured to be 32.7 μ mol/hr, which was about 3-fold higher than the bare V2O5/BiVO4 heterojunction photoanode.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number152721
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Alloys and Compounds
    Volume817
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2020

    Keywords

    • BiVO
    • Heterojunction
    • Photogenerated charge carriers
    • Reduced graphene oxide
    • Solar hydrogen

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