Recent advances In the use of TiO 2 nanotube and nanowire arrays for oxidative photoelectrochemistry

  • Shankar K
  • Basham J
  • Allam N
 et al. 
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Abstract

In this article, we present recent advances that we have achieved toward improving the properties of anodically formed semiconducting TiO2 nanotubes as well as nanowire arrays as electrodes for oxidative photoelectro- chemistry. The morphology, crystallinity, composition, and illumination geometry of nanotube or nanowire arrays are critical factors in their performance as photoelectrodes. We discuss the key aspects relating to each factor and the advances achieved in improving each. With respect to the more fully investigated nanotube arrays, the ability to control the morphological parameters such as pore size, tube length, and wall thickness of the nanotube architecture has enabled high performance in applications such as water photoelectrolysis, photocatalysis, dye-sensitized solar cells, and heterojunction TiO2-polymer hybrid solar cells. We begin by reviewing the photoelectrochemical performance of state-of-the-art nanotube arrays fabricated on planar substrates. We then present more recent results related to the growth of TiO2 nanotube arrays on nonplanar substrates designed in such a way that reflected light normally lost to free space is instead directed to a different point on the device, in turn improving overall photoconversion efficiency. Insofar as the crystallinity of the nanotubes is concerned, the use of a high-temperature oxygen or air-ambient anneal to crystallize the nanotube arrays is disadvantageous, since it results in a thick barrier layer where recombination losses occur and also because it precludes compatibility with polymeric substrates. In this regard, we discovered a two- step fabrication process for synthesis of crystallized nanotube arrays at low-temperatures. The photoelectro- chemical applications of TiO2 are limited by its large electronic band gap. We briefly review the cationic and anionic doping approaches popularly used to modify the TiO2 band gap. We consider the use of ternary oxide systems containing titania as both a structural support and corrosion-inhibitor, in particular fabrication and performance of n-type Ti-Fe-O nanotubes and p-type copper-rich Cu-Ti-O nanotubes, with a note on our recent synthesis of iron oxide nanotube arrays by anodic oxidation of iron. Fabrication and photoelec- trochemical properties of CdS-TiO2 and CdTe-TiO2 nanotube array heterojunction photoelectrodes are discussed. The article concludes by examining low temperature synthesis, and resulting properties, of single crystal vertically oriented TiO2 nanowire arrays on transparent conductive glass substrates; preliminary investigation of these nanowire array photoelectrodes for water photolysis reveals them to have low series resistance and provide excellent separation of photogenerated charges.

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Authors

  • Karthik Shankar

  • James I. Basham

  • Nageh K. Allam

  • Oomman K. Varghese

  • Gopal K. Mor

  • Xinjian Feng

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