Ultrafast carrier dynamics in BiVO4 thin film photoanode material: interplay between free carriers, trapped carriers and low-frequency lattice vibrations

K. T. Butler, B. J. Dringoli, L. Zhou, P. M. Rao, A. Walsh, L. V. Titova

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50 Citations (Scopus)


We explore ultrafast carrier dynamics and interactions of photoexcited carriers with lattice vibrational modes in BiVO4 photoanode material using time-resolved terahertz spectroscopy and first-principles phonon spectrum calculations. We find that photoexcited holes form bound polaron states by introducing lattice distortion that changes phonon spectrum and suppresses the Ag phonon mode associated with opposite motion of Bi and VO4 molecular units. At excitation fluence higher than 1 mJ cm2 (or 2 × 1015 cm2 per pulse), lattice distortion due to self-localized holes alters the lattice symmetry and vibrational spectrum, resulting in bleaching of THz absorption by Ag phonons. Concurrently, we observe a short lived population of free carriers which exhibit Drude conductivity with mobility on the order of 200 cm2 V1 s1, orders of magnitude higher than typical carrier mobility in BiVO4. The anomalously high carrier mobilities are explained in the framework of a Mott transition. This demonstration of enhanced transport suggests how engineering BiVO4 photoanodes to take advantage of free carrier transport under high excitation conditions may in the future significantly enhance performance of photoelectrochemical devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18516-18523
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Materials Chemistry A
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMR-1609538. P. M. R. and L. V. T. acknowledge start-up funding by Worcester Polytechnic Institute. K. T. B. and A. W. acknowledge membership of the UK's HPC Materials Chemistry Consortium (EPSRC EP/L000202) and access to computational resources through PRACE. A. W. acknowledges support from the Royal Society for a University Research Fellowship and K. T. B. is funded by EPSRC (EP/M009580/1 and EP/J017361/1). Finally, B. J. D. is grateful for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship by Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Science(all)


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