American Chemical Society
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Liquid-Phase Exfoliated GeSe Nanoflakes for Photoelectrochemical-Type Photodetectors and Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-10-19, 15:25 authored by Gabriele Bianca, Marilena I. Zappia, Sebastiano Bellani, Zdeněk Sofer, Michele Serri, Leyla Najafi, Reinier Oropesa-Nuñez, Beatriz Martín-García, Tomáš Hartman, Luca Leoncino, David Sedmidubský, Vittorio Pellegrini, Gennaro Chiarello, Francesco Bonaccorso
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems represent powerful tools to convert electromagnetic radiation into chemical fuels and electricity. In this context, two-dimensional (2D) materials are attracting enormous interest as potential advanced photo­(electro)­catalysts and, recently, 2D group-IVA metal monochalcogenides have been theoretically predicted to be water splitting photocatalysts. In this work, we use density functional theory calculations to theoretically investigate the photocatalytic activity of single-/few-layer GeSe nanoflakes for both the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) in pH conditions ranging from 0 to 14. Our simulations show that GeSe nanoflakes with different thickness can be mixed in the form of nanoporous films to act as nanoscale tandem systems, in which the flakes, depending on their thickness, can operate as HER- and/or OER photocatalysts. On the basis of theoretical predictions, we report the first experimental characterization of the photo­(electro)­catalytic activity of single-/few-layer GeSe flakes in different aqueous media, ranging from acidic to alkaline solutions: 0.5 M H2SO4 (pH 0.3), 1 M KCl (pH 6.5), and 1 M KOH (pH 14). The films of the GeSe nanoflakes are fabricated by spray coating GeSe nanoflakes dispersion in 2-propanol obtained through liquid-phase exfoliation of synthesized orthorhombic (Pnma) GeSe bulk crystals. The PEC properties of the GeSe nanoflakes are used to design PEC-type photodetectors, reaching a responsivity of up to 0.32 AW–1 (external quantum efficiency of 86.3%) under 455 nm excitation wavelength in acidic electrolyte. The obtained performances are superior to those of several self-powered and low-voltage solution-processed photodetectors, approaching that of self-powered commercial UV–Vis photodetectors. The obtained results inspire the use of 2D GeSe in proof-of-concept water photoelectrolysis cells.