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Time-retrenched synthesis of BaTaO2N by localizing an NH3 delivery system for visible-light-driven photoelectrochemical water oxidation at neutral pH: Solid-state reaction or flux method?

Hojamberdiev, Mirabbos; Mora-Hernandez, J. Manuel; Vargas, Ronald; Yamakata, Akira; Yubuta, Kunio; Heppke, Eva Maria; Torres-Martínez, Leticia M.; Teshima, Katsuya; Lerch, Martin

Among 600 nm class transition-metal oxynitrides, BaTaO2N with a cubic Pm3̅m perovskite-type structure is promising for solar water oxidation due to its absorption of visible light up to 660 nm, narrower band gap (Eg = 1.9 eV), appropriate valence band edge position for oxygen evolution, good stability in concentrated alkaline solutions, and nontoxicity. However, high defect density stemmed from long high-temperature ammonolysis limits the separation and transfer efficiency of photogenerated charge carriers in BaTaO2N. Here, a NH3 delivery system is specifically localized just above the synthesis mixture to reduce the synthesis time and defect density of BaTaO2N by a fresh supply of more active nitriding species and minimizing the generation of N2 and H2. Particularly, the effects of synthesis temperature (700–950 °C), synthesis time (1–8 h), and gas composition are systematically investigated to gain insights into the formation of single-phase BaTaO2N by solid-state reaction and flux method. Time-dependent experiments conducted at 950 °C show that single-phase BaTaO2N can be synthesized ≥6 and ≥4 h by solid-state reaction and flux method, respectively, revealing the advantage of the flux method over solid-state reaction in a localized NH3 delivery system. Subsequently, the separation and transfer efficiency and kinetics of photogenerated charge carriers are studied in BaTaO2N samples. Photoelectrochemical studies made it possible to resolve trends during visible-light-induced water oxidation, evidencing the inverse relationship between recombination and charge transfer phenomena. Transient absorption spectroscopy reveals that the dynamics of the photogenerated charge carriers in both types of BaTaO2N samples are different: (i) BaTaO2N synthesized by flux method has a greater number of holes despite the similar number of deeply trapped charge carriers and (ii) solid-state reaction led to the formation of a higher number of free electrons in BaTaO2N. The findings demonstrate the advantage of reducing the transfer distance of active nitriding species to the surface of the synthesis mixture for enhancing the photoelectrochemical water oxidation of BaTaO2N at neutral pH.
Published in: ACS Applied Energy Materials, 10.1021/acsaem.1c01539, American Chemical Society (ACS)