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Oxygen Vacancies Engineering of Iron Oxides Films for Solar Water Splitting

Maxime Rioult 1, 2 Dana Stanescu 1 Emiliano Fonda 2 Antoine Barbier 1 Hélène Magnan 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
Abstract : Hematite (α-Fe 2 O 3) can be considered as one of the top candidates to act as photoanode in the framework of clean hydrogen production through solar water splitting. The O:Fe ratio, that in this material plays a crucial role in the definition of its photoelectrochemical properties, has been investigated in detail. For this purpose, we examined thermal magnetite oxidation and hematite reduction as two possible routes to produce semiconducting iron oxides layers with controlled stoichiometry. We report on properties of single crystalline nanometric films elaborated by atomic oxygen plasma assisted molecular beam epitaxy as model systems to disentangle structural phase transition effects from pure stoichiometry ones. We provide new insights into the mechanisms related to hematite properties modifications and their correlation with photocurrent changes upon the presence of oxygen vacancies and phase mixing with magnetite, with respect to the vacancies concentration regimes. We show on one hand that crystallographic structure mixing appears as strongly detrimental for photoanodes synthesis whatever the oxygen vacancies concentration. On the other hand, oxygen vacancies in the optimal concentration range, while preserving the α-Fe 2 O 3 corundum phase, is highly favorable for solar water splitting, inducing a substantial reduction of 0.2 V for the onset potential and an overall photocurrent increase of 50% with respect to stoichiometric hematite. The present study demonstrates more generally the possibility of using oxygen vacancies as a degree of freedom for the optimization of hematite photoanodes.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 20, 2016 - 5:11:28 PM
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Maxime Rioult, Dana Stanescu, Emiliano Fonda, Antoine Barbier, Hélène Magnan. Oxygen Vacancies Engineering of Iron Oxides Films for Solar Water Splitting. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, American Chemical Society, 2016, 120 (14), pp.7482. ⟨10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b00552⟩. ⟨cea-01369300⟩

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