Understanding the degradation mechanisms of photoelectrodes and improving their stability are essential for fully realizing solar-to-hydrogen conversion via photo-electrochemical (PEC) devices. Although amorphous TiO 2 layers have been widely employed as a protective layer on top of p-type semiconductors to implement durable photocathodes, gradual photocurrent degradation is still unavoidable. This study elucidates the photocurrent degradation mechanisms of TiO 2 -protected Sb 2 Se 3 photocathodes and proposes a novel interface-modification methodology in which fullerene (C 60 ) is introduced as a photoelectron transfer promoter for significantly enhancing long-term stability. It is demonstrated that the accumulation of photogenerated electrons at the surface of the TiO 2 layer induces the reductive dissolution of TiO 2 , accompanied by photocurrent degradation. In addition, the insertion of the C 60 photoelectron transfer promoter at the Pt/TiO 2 interface facilitates the rapid transfer of photogenerated electrons out of the TiO 2 layer, thereby yielding enhanced stability. The Pt/C 60 /TiO 2 /Sb 2 Se 3 device exhibits a high photocurrent density of 17 mA cm −2 and outstanding stability over 10 h of operation, representing the best PEC performance and long-term stability compared with previously reported Sb 2 Se 3 -based photocathodes. This research not only provides in-depth understanding of the degradation mechanisms of TiO 2 -protected photocathodes, but also suggests a new direction to achieve durable photocathodes for photo-electrochemical water splitting.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea grant (Grant No. 2012R1A3A2026417) and the Creative Materials Discovery Program (NRF-2018M3D1A1058793) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Materials Science(all)