American Chemical Society
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Direct Light-Driven Water Oxidation by a Ladder-Type Conjugated Polymer Photoanode

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-09, 06:59 authored by Pauline Bornoz, Mathieu S. Prévot, Xiaoyun Yu, Néstor Guijarro, Kevin Sivula
A conjugated polymer known for high stability (poly­[benzimidazobenzophenanthroline], coded as BBL) is examined as a photoanode for direct solar water oxidation. In aqueous electrolyte with a sacrificial hole acceptor (SO32–), photoelectrodes show a morphology-dependent performance. Films prepared by a dispersion-spray method with a nanostructured surface (feature size of ∼20 nm) gave photocurrents up to 0.23 ± 0.02 mA cm–2 at 1.23 VRHE under standard simulated solar illumination. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy reveals a constant flat-band potential over a wide pH range at +0.31 VNHE. The solar water oxidation photocurrent with bare BBL electrodes is found to increase with increasing pH, and no evidence of semiconductor oxidation was observed over a 30 min testing time. Characterization of the photo-oxidation reaction suggests H2O2 or •OH production with the bare film, while functionalization of the interface with 1 nm of TiO2 followed by a nickel–cobalt catalyst gave solar photocurrents of 20–30 μA cm–2, corresponding with O2 evolution. Limitations to photocurrent production are discussed.