Tandem Core-Shell Si–Ta3N5 Photoanodes for Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting

Ieva Narkeviciute, Pongkarn Chakthranont, Adriaan J. M. Mackus, Christopher Hahn, Blaise A. Pinaud, Stacey F. Bent, Thomas F. Jaramillo
Year of publication: 
Nano Letters

Nanostructured core–shell Si–Ta3N5 photoanodes were designed and synthesized to overcome charge transport limitations of Ta3N5 for photoelectrochemical water splitting. The core–shell devices were fabricated by atomic layer deposition of amorphous Ta2O5 onto nanostructured Si and subsequent nitridation to crystalline Ta3N5. Nanostructuring with a thin shell of Ta3N5 results in a 10-fold improvement in photocurrent compared to a planar device of the same thickness. In examining thickness dependence of the Ta3N5 shell from 10 to 70 nm, superior photocurrent and absorbed-photon-to-current efficiencies are obtained from the thinner Ta3N5 shells, indicating minority carrier diffusion lengths on the order of tens of nanometers. The fabrication of a heterostructure based on a semiconducting, n-type Si core produced a tandem photoanode with a photocurrent onset shifted to lower potentials by 200 mV. CoTiOx and NiOx water oxidation cocatalysts were deposited onto the Si–Ta3N5 to yield active photoanodes that with NiOx retained 50–60% of their maximum photocurrent after 24 h chronoamperometry experiments and are thus among the most stable Ta3N5 photoanodes reported to date.

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