The fabrication of heterojunctions with different band gap semiconductors is a promising approach to increase photoelectrochemical (PEC) activity. The PEC activity is determined by the charge separation; hence, the behaviors of charge carriers at the junctions should be elucidated. However, it has been quite challenging since the distinction of carriers located in different layers has been extremely hard. In this work, we succeeded in the identification of the individual electron- and hole-transfer kinetics at CoOx/BiVO4/SnO2 double heterojunctions by measuring transient absorption (TA) from the visible to mid-IR region: we found that the absorption peaks of electrons and holes depend on the materials. From the change in spectral shape after the selective photoexcitation of BiVO4, it was confirmed that electrons excited in the BiVO4 rapidly transferred to the SnO2 layer after ∼3 ps, but the holes remained in the BiVO4 and further transferred to CoOx in a few picoseconds. As a result, recombination of charge carriers was suppressed and 2.4 and 3.6 times a large amount of carriers are surviving at 5 μs on BiVO4/SnO2 and CoOx/BiVO4/SnO2, respectively, compared to bare BiVO4. For such picosecond-rapid and effective charge separation, the previously well proposed sole intralayer or interlayer charge separation mechanism is not enough. Hence the synergetic effect of these two mechanisms, the band-bending-assisted charge transfer across the heterojunction, is proposed. The enhanced PEC activity of CoOx/BiVO4/SnO2 electrodes was reasonably explained by this synergistic charge separation kinetics. This fundamental knowledge of charge carrier dynamics will be beneficial for the design of superior solar energy conversion systems.
- photogenerated charge carriers
- time-resolved absorption spectroscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Materials Chemistry
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering