Role of Hydrogen in Defining the n‑Type Character of BiVO4 Photoanodes
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b01994
The roles of hydrogen impurity and oxygen vacancy defects on defining the conductivity, and hence photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance characteristics, of monoclinic scheelite bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) are investigated using a combination of experiment and theory. We find that elemental hydrogen is present as an impurity in as-synthesized BiVO4 and that increasing its concentration by annealing in H2 at temperatures up to 290 °C leads to near-complete elimination of majority carrier transport limitations, a beneficial shift in the photoanodic current onset potential, and improved fill factor. Magnetic resonance measurements reveal that hydrogen can be incorporated in at least two different chemical environments, which are assigned to interstitial and substitutional sites. Incorporation of hydrogen leads to a shift of the Fermi level toward the conduction band edge, indicating that n-type character is correlated with increased hydrogen content. This finding is in agreement with theory and reveals that hydrogen acts as a donor in BiVO4. Sub-bandgap photoluminescence is observed from as-synthesized material and is consistent with deep electronic states associated with oxygen vacancies. Hydrogen treatment leads to reduced emission from these states. These findings support the conclusion that hydrogen, rather than oxygen vacancies, is dominant in determining the n-type conductivity of BiVO4. These findings have important implications for controlling the electronic properties and functional characteristics of this promising photoanode material.