Synergistic crystal facet engineering and structural control of WO3 films exhibiting unprecedented photoelectrochemical performance

Songcan Wang, Hongjun Chen, Guoping Gao, Teera Butburee, Miaoqiang Lyu, Supphasin Thaweesak, Jung-Ho Yun, Aijun Du, Gang Liu, Lianzhou Wang*

Abstract: WO3 nanoplate arrays with (002) oriented facets grown on fluorine doped SnO2 (FTO) glass substrates are tailored by tuning the precursor solution via a facile hydrothermal method. A 2-step hydrothermal method leads to the preferential growth of WO3 film with enriched (002) facets, which exhibits extraordinary photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance with a remarkable photocurrent density of 3.7 mA cm–2 at 1.23 V vs.revisable hydrogen electrode (RHE) under AM 1.5 G illumination without the use of any cocatalyst, corresponding to ~93% of the theoretical photocurrent of WO3. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations together with experimental studies reveal that the enhanced photocatalytic activity and better photo-stability of the WO3 films are attributed to the synergistic effect of highly reactive (002) facet and nanoplate structure which facilitates the photo–induced charge carrier separation and suppresses the formation of peroxo-species. Without the use of oxygen evolution cocatalysts, the excellent PEC performance, demonstrated in this work, by simply tuning crystal facets and nanostructure of pristine WO3 films may open up new opportunities in designing high performance photoanodes for PEC water splitting.

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