Enhanced Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting Performance of Anodic TiO2 Nanotube Arrays by Surface Passivation

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Shanghai Advanced Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 99 Haike Road, Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park, Pudong, Shanghai 201210, China
Key Laboratory of Soft Chemistry and Functional Materials of Education Ministry, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing 210094, China
§ University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
Shanghai Key Laboratory of Special Artificial Microstructure Materials, and Technology, School of Physics Science and Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092, China
Cite this: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2014, 6, 19, 17053–17058
Publication Date (Web):September 8, 2014
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society
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One-dimensional anodic titanium oxide nanotube (TONT) arrays provide a direct pathway for charge transport, and thus hold great potential as working electrodes for electrochemical energy conversion and storage devices. However, the prominent surface recombination due to the large amount surface defects hinders the performance improvement. In this work, the surface states of TONTs were passivated by conformal coating of high-quality Al2O3 onto the tubular structures using atomic layer deposition (ALD). The modified TONT films were subsequently employed as anodes for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. The photocurrent (0.5 V vs Ag/AgCl) recorded under air mass 1.5 global illumination presented 0.8 times enhancement on the electrode with passivation coating. The reduction of surface recombination rate is responsible for the substantially improved performance, which is proposed to have originated from a decreased interface defect density in combination with a field-effect passivation induced by a negative fixed charge in the Al2O3 shells. These results not only provide a physical insight into the passivation effect, but also can be utilized as a guideline to design other energy conversion devices.

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