Dual roles of a flouride-doped SnO2/TiO2 bilayer based on inverse opal/nanoparticle structure for water oxidation
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Fluorine-doped tin dioxide (FTO) inverse opals (IOs) were fabricated on a template of polystyrene (PS) beads (diameter = 400 nm (±20 nm)) by using a spin-coating method. The concentration of the FTO precursor, in particular, the 1.0 M FTO concentration solution significantly influenced the morphology of the IO film. The FTO nanoparticles upon the FTO IO film were sparsely formed relative to these formed from the 0.5 M FTO solution. To compensate for the large band gap (E g = 3.8 eV) of FTO in the photoelectrochemical (PEC) reaction, we deposited a photoactive TiO2 shell on the FTO IO film by using the sol-gel method. The morphological change and the crystalline properties of the FTO IO and TiO2-coated FTO IO (hereafter referred to as FTO IO/TiO2) films, were investigated with field emission scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction, respectively. The PEC behaviors of the samples were tested in a 0.1 M KOH solution under one sun illumination (100 mW/cm2 with an AM 1.5 filter). The highest PEC performance was obtained with the 1.0 M FTO IO/TiO2 film, which produced a photocurrent density (Jsc) of 3.28 mA/cm2 at 1.23 V (vs. normal hydrogen electrode (NHE), as briefly expressed to 1.23 VNHE) compared to 2.42 mA/cm2 at 1.23 VNHE with the 0.5 M FTO IO/TiO2 film. The approximately 30% enhanced performance of the 1.0 M FTO IO/TiO2 film was mainly attributed to the peculiar structure comprised of the FTO nanoparticle layer and IO films to form a bilayer structure, providing a much larger surface area, as well as complete coverage of the photoactive TiO2 nanoparticles through the FTO IO skeleton in the proper band alignment to boost the charge separation/transfer phenomenon, finally resulting in the enhanced PEC activity.
KeywordsPhotoelectrochemical water splitting Fluorine-doped SnO2 Inverse opals TiO2
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