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Effect of Doping (C or N) and Co-Doping (C+N) on the Photoactive Properties of Magnetron Sputtered Titania Coatings for the Application of Solar Water-Splitting

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The photocatalytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell containing titanium dioxide (TiO2) photoanode is a potentially renewable source of chemical fuels. However, the size of the band gap (∼3.2 eV) of the TiO2 photocatalyst leads to its relatively low photoactivity toward visible light in a PEC cell. The development of materials with smaller band gaps of approximately 2.4 eV is therefore necessary to operate PEC cells efficiently. This study investigates the effect of dopant (C or N) and co-dopant (C+N) on the physical, structural and photoactivity of TiO2 nano thick coating. TiO2 nano-thick coatings were deposited using a closed field DC reactive magnetron sputtering technique, from titanium target in argon plasma with trace addition of oxygen. In order to study the influence of doping such as C, N and C+N inclusions in the TiO2 coatings, trace levels of CO2 or N2 or CO2+N2 gas were introduced into the deposition chamber respectively. The properties of the deposited nano-coatings were determined using Spectroscopic Ellipsometry, SEM, AFM, Optical profilometry, XPS, Raman, X-ray diffraction UV-Vis spectroscopy and tri-electrode potentiostat measurements. Coating growth rate, structure, surface morphology and roughness were found to be significantly influenced by the types and amount of doping. Substitutional type of doping in all doped sample were confirmed by XPS. UV-vis measurement confirmed that doping (especially for C doped sample) facilitate photoactivity of sputtered deposited titania coating toward visible light by reducing bandgap. The photocurrent density (indirect indication of water splitting performance) of the C-doped photoanode was approximately 26% higher in comparison with un-doped photoanode. However, coating doped with nitrogen (N or N+C) does not exhibit good performance in the photoelectrochemical cell due to their higher charge recombination properties.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2012

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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