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Strong O 2p–Fe 3d Hybridization Observed in Solution-Grown Hematite Films by Soft X‑ray Spectroscopies

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journal contribution
posted on 01.11.2017, 00:00 by Yifan Ye, James E. Thorne, Cheng Hao Wu, Yi-Sheng Liu, Chun Du, Ji-Wook Jang, Erik Liu, Dunwei Wang, Jinghua Guo
Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting holds the potential as a direct route for solar energy conversation and storage. The performance of a PEC device is strongly influenced by the electronic properties of the photonanode surface. It has been shown that the synthesis methods can have a profound impact on the electronic properties and PEC performance of various photoelectrode materials such as hematite. Soft X-ray spectroscopic techniques, including O K-edge XAS and Fe L-edge XAS/XES, have been employed to investigate how the synthesis methods impact the electronic structure of resulting hematite materials. It is found that the hematite samples via solution regrowth methods show dramatically increased 3d–4sp band ratios in O K-edge XAS spectra and decreased relative elastic peak intensities in Fe L-edge RIXS spectra compared with samples synthesized via ALD or solution grown. The difference observed in O–K and Fe–L spectra indicated that solution regrowth strategy alters the O 2p–Fe 3d hybridization and hence the electronic structure of the hematite films, which proves to be beneficial for PEC performance of the hematite photoanode. Our findings provided new insights and potentially useful strategies for enhancing the PEC performance of photoanode materials.