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. 2011 Dec 14;11(12):5587-93.
doi: 10.1021/nl203729j. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Interface Engineering by Piezoelectric Potential in ZnO-based Photoelectrochemical Anode

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Interface Engineering by Piezoelectric Potential in ZnO-based Photoelectrochemical Anode

Jian Shi et al. Nano Lett. .

Abstract

Through a process of photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting, we demonstrated an effective strategy for engineering the barrier height of a heterogeneous semiconductor interface by piezoelectric polarization, known as the piezotronic effect. A consistent enhancement or reduction of photocurrent was observed when tensile or compressive strains were applied to the ZnO anode, respectively. The photocurrent variation is attributed to a changed barrier height at the ZnO/ITO interface, which is a result of the remnant piezoelectric potential across the interface due to a nonideal free charge distribution in the ITO electrode. In our system, ∼1.5 mV barrier height change per 0.1% applied strain was identified, and 0.21% tensile strain yielded a ∼10% improvement of the maximum PEC efficiency. The remnant piezopotential is dictated by the screening length of the materials in contact with piezoelectric component. The difference between this time-independent remnant piezopotential effect and time-dependent piezoelectric effect is also studied in details.

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