Crystalline TiO2: A Generic and Effective Electron-Conducting Protection Layer for Photoanodes and -cathodes

Bastian Mei, Thomas Pedersen, Paolo Malacrida, Dowon Bae, Rasmus Frydendal, Ole Hansen, Peter C. K. Vesborg, Brian Seger, Ib Chorkendorff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Stabilizing efficient photoabsorbers for solar water splitting has recently shown significant progress with the development of various protection layers. Suitable protection layers for tandem devices should be conductive, transparent, and stable in strongly acidic or alkaline solutions. This paper shows that under certain conditions n-type semiconductors, such as TiO2, can be used as protection layers for Si-based photoanodes. It also provides evidence that even in a photoanode assembly TiO2 is conducting only electrons (not holes as in p-type protection layers), and therefore TiO2 can be described as a simple ohmic contact. This renders n-type semiconductors, such as TiO2, to be versatile and simple protection layers, which can be used for photoanodes and as previously shown for photocathodes. The ohmic behavior of n-type TiO2 in a Si/TiO2-photoanode assembly is demonstrated under dark and illuminated conditions by performing the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and using the Fe(II)/Fe(III) redox couple. These measurements reveal that the performance of the Si/TiO2-photoanode assembly is strongly dependent on the TiO2/electrolyte interaction. Finally, the conditions and requirements that make TiO2 generally applicable for photoanode assemblies, and thus for protecting tandem devices, are outlined and quantitatively shown by band diagram calculations. The results presented here provide the understanding required for the design of highly efficient and stable photoelectrochemical water splitting devices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15019-15027
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number27
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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