Thermodynamically Driven One-Dimensional Evolution of Anatase TiO2 Nanorods: One-Step Hydrothermal Synthesis for Emerging Intrinsic Superiority of Dimensionality

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Division of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 62 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637459, Singapore
*E-mail for b.L.: [email protected]
Cite this: J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 43, 15310–15318
Publication Date (Web):October 7, 2014
https://doi.org/10.1021/ja5080568
Copyright © 2014 American Chemical Society
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Abstract

In photoelectrochemical cells, there exists a competition between transport of electrons through the porous semiconductor electrode toward the conducting substrate and back-reaction of electrons to recombine with oxidized species on the semiconductor–electrolyte interface, which determines the charge collection efficiency and is strongly influenced by the density and distribution of electronic states in band gap and architectures of the semiconductor electrodes. One-dimensional (1D) anatase TiO2 nanostructures are promising to improve charge transport in photoelectrochemical devices. However, the conventional preparation of 1D anatase nanostructures usually steps via a titanic acid intermediate (e.g., H2Ti3O7), which unavoidably introduces electronic defects into the host lattice, resulting in undesired shielding of the intrinsic role of dimensionality. Here, we manage to promote the 1D growth of anatase TiO2 nanostructures by adjusting the growth kinetics, which allows us to grow single-crystalline anatase TiO2 nanorods through a one-step hydrothermal reaction. The synthesized anatase nanorods possess a lower density of trap states and thus can simultaneously facilitate the diffusion-driven charge transport and suppress the electron recombination. Moreover, the electronically boundary free nanostructures significantly enhance the trap-free charge diffusion coefficient of the anatase nanorods, which enables the emergence of the intrinsic superiority of dimensionality. By virtue of these merits, the anatase nanorods synthesized in this work take obvious advantages over the conventional anatase counterparts in photoelectrochemical systems (e.g., dye-sensitized solar cells) by showing more efficient charge transport and collection and higher energy conversion efficiency.

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