Local electronic structure and photoelectrochemical activity of partial chemically etched Ti-doped hematite

Maxime Rioult 1, * Rachid Belkhou 2 Hélène Magnan 1 Dana Stanescu 1 Stefan Stanescu 2 Francesco Maccherozzi 3 Cindy Rountree 4 Antoine Barbier 1
* Corresponding author
1 LNO - Laboratoire Nano-Magnétisme et Oxydes
SPEC - UMR3680 - Service de physique de l'état condensé, IRAMIS - Institut Rayonnement Matière de Saclay
4 SPHYNX - Systèmes Physiques Hors-équilibre, hYdrodynamique, éNergie et compleXes
SPEC - UMR3680 - Service de physique de l'état condensé, IRAMIS - Institut Rayonnement Matière de Saclay
Abstract : The direct conversion of solar light into chemical energy or fuel through photoelectrochemical water splitting is promising as a clean hydrogen production solution. Ti-doped hematite (Ti:α-Fe 2 O 3) is a potential key photoanode material, which despite its optimal band gap, excellent chemical stability, abundance, non-toxicity and low cost, still has to be improved. Here we give evidence of a drastic improvement of the water splitting performances of Ti-doped hematite photoanodes upon a HCl wet-etching. In addition to the topography investigation by atomic force microscopy, a detailed determination of the local electronic structure has been carried out in order to understand the phenomenon and to provide new insights in the understanding of solar water splitting. Using synchrotron radiation based spectromicroscopy (X-PEEM), we investigated the X-ray absorption spectral features at the L 3 Fe edge of the as grown surface and of the wet-etched surface on the very same sample thanks to patterning. We show that HCl wet etching leads to substantial surface modifications of the oxide layer including increased roughness and chemical reduction (presence of Fe 2+) without changing the band gap. We demonstrate that these changes are profitable and correlated to the drastic changes of the photocatalytic activity.
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Maxime Rioult, Rachid Belkhou, Hélène Magnan, Dana Stanescu, Stefan Stanescu, et al.. Local electronic structure and photoelectrochemical activity of partial chemically etched Ti-doped hematite. Studies in Surface Science and Catalysis, Elsevier, 2015, 641, ⟨10.1016/j.susc.2015.01.002⟩. ⟨cea-01366340⟩

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