Piezotronic-Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Reactions in Ni(OH)2-Decorated ZnO Photoanodes

J Phys Chem Lett. 2015 Sep 3;6(17):3410-6. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.5b01598. Epub 2015 Aug 18.


Controlling the interface electronic band structure in heterostructures is essential for developing highly efficient photoelectrochemical (PEC) photoanodes. Here, we presented an enhanced oxygen evolution reaction (OER) by introducing the piezotronics concept, i.e., piezoelectric polarization (Ppz)-induced band engineering. In a Ni(OH)2-decorated ZnO photoanode system, appreciably improved photocurrent density of sulfite (SO3(2-)) and hydroxyl (OH(-)) oxidation reactions were obtained by physically deflecting the photoanode. Both theoretical and experimental results suggested that the performance enhancement was a result of the piezoelectric Ppz-endowed enlargement of the built-in electric field at the ZnO/Ni(OH)2 interface, which could drive an additional amount of photoexcited charges from ZnO toward the interface for OER. This strategy demonstrates a new route for improving the performance of inexpensive catalysts-based solar-to-fuel production.

Keywords: band engineering; nickel hydroxide; oxygen evolution reaction; piezoelectric polarization; water splitting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.