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Title: Photoelectrochemistry, Electronic Structure, and Bandgap Sizes of Semiconducting Cu(I)-Niobates and Cu(I)-Tantalates

Semiconducting metal-oxides have remained of intense research interest owing to their potential for achieving efficient solar-driven photocatalytic reactions in aqueous solutions that occur as a result of their bandgap excitation. The photocatalytic reduction of water or carbon dioxide to generate hydrogen or hydrocarbon fuels, respectively, can be driven on p-type (photocathodic) electrodes with suitable band energies. However, metal-oxide semiconductors are typically difficult to dope as p-type with a high mobility of carriers. The supported research led to the discovery of new p-type Cu(I)-niobate and Cu(I)-tantalate film electrodes that can be prepared on FTO glass. New high-purity flux syntheses and the full structural determination of several Cu(I)-containing niobates and tantalates have been completed, as well as new investigations of their optical and photoelectrochemical properties and electronic structures via density-functional theory calculations. For example, CuNbO3, Cu5Ta11O30 and CuNb3O8 were prepared in high purity and their structures were characterized by both single-crystal and powder X-ray diffraction techniques. These two classes of Cu(I)-containing compounds exhibit optical bandgap sizes ranging from ~1.3 eV to ~2.6 eV. Photoelectrochemical measurements of these compounds show strong photon-driven cathodic currents that confirm the p-type semiconductor behavior of CuNbO3, CuNb3O8, and Cu5Ta11O30. Incident-photon-to-current efficiencies are measured that approach greater thanmore » ~1%. Electronic-structure calculations based on density functional theory reveal the visible-light absorption stems from a nearly-direct bandgap transition involving a copper-to-niobium or tantalum (d10 to d0) charge-transfer excitations.« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE; USDOE SC Office of Basic Energy Sciences (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States