Fermi Level Engineering of Passivation and Electron Transport Materials for p‐Type CuBi2O4 Employing a High‐Throughput Methodology

2020: Advanced Functional Materials


Zemin Zhang, Sarah A. Lindley, Dan Guevarra, Kevin Kan, Aniketa Shinde, John M. Gregoire, Weihua Han, Erqing Xie, Joel A. Haber, Jason K. Cooper

Metal oxide semiconductors are promising for solar photochemistry if the issues of excessive charge carrier recombination and material degradation can be resolved, which are both influenced by surface quality and interface chemistry. Coating the semiconductor with an overlayer to passivate surface states is a common remedial strategy but is less desirable than application of a functional coating that can improve carrier extraction and reduce recombination while mitigating corrosion. In this work, a data‐driven materials science approach utilizing high‐throughput methodologies, including inkjet printing and scanning droplet electrochemical cell measurements, is used to create and evaluate multi‐element coating libraries to discover new classes of candidate passivation and electron‐selective contact materials for p‐type CuBi2O4. The optimized overlayer (Cu1.5TiOz) improves the onset potential by 110 mV, the photocurrent by 2.8×, and the absorbed photon‐to‐current efficiency by 15.5% compared to non‐coated photoelectrodes. It is shown that these enhancements are related to reduced surface recombination through passivation of surface defect states as well as improved carrier extraction efficiency through Fermi level engineering. This work presents a generalizable, high‐throughput method to design and optimize passivation materials for a variety of semiconductors, providing a powerful platform for development of high‐performance photoelectrodes for incorporation into solar‐fuel generation systems.

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