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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Theoretical and Experimental Study on the Optoelectronic Properties of Nb3O7(OH) and Nb2O5 Photoelectrodes


Nb3O7(OH) and Nb2O5 nanostructures are promising alternative materials to conventionally used oxides, e.g. TiO2, in the field of photoelectrodes in dye-sensitized solar cells and photoelectrochemical cells. Despite this important future application, some of their central electronic properties such as the density of states, band gap, and dielectric function are not well understood. In this work, we present combined theoretical and experimental studies on Nb3O7(OH) and H-Nb2O5 to elucidate their spectroscopic, electronic, and transport properties. The theoretical results were obtained within the framework of density functional theory based on the full potential linearized augmented plane wave method. In particular, we show that the position of the H atom in Nb3O7(OH) has an important effect on its electronic properties. To verify theoretical predictions, we measured electron energy-loss spectra (EELS) in the low loss region, as well as, the O-K and Nb-M3 element-specific edges. These results are compared with corresponding theoretical EELS calculations and are discussed in detail. In addition, our calculations of thermoelectric conductivity show that Nb3O7(OH) has more suitable optoelectronic and transport properties for photochemical application than the calcined H-Nb2O5 phase.

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