Spatial separation of photogenerated electrons and holes among {010} and {110} crystal facets of BiVO4

Nat Commun. 2013;4:1432. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2401.


Charge separation is crucial for increasing the activity of semiconductor-based photocatalysts, especially in water splitting reactions. Here we show, using monoclinic bismuth vanadate crystal as a model photocatalyst, that efficient charge separation can be achieved on different crystal facets, as evidenced by the reduction reaction with photogenerated electrons and oxidation reaction with photogenerated holes, which take place separately on the {010} and {110} facets under photo-irradiation. Based on this finding, the reduction and oxidation cocatalysts are selectively deposited on the {010} and {110} facets respectively, resulting in much higher activity in both photocatalytic and photoelectrocatalytic water oxidation reactions, compared with the photocatalyst with randomly distributed cocatalysts. These results show that the photogenrated electrons and holes can be separated between the different facets of semiconductor crystals. This finding may be useful in semiconductor physics and chemistry to construct highly efficient solar energy conversion systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't