Photoexcited Electrons Driven by Doping Concentration Gradient: Flux-Prepared NaTaO3 Photocatalysts Doped with Strontium Cations

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Other Title
  • Photoexcited Electrons Driven by Doping Concentration Gradient: Flux-Prepared NaTaO<sub>3</sub> Photocatalysts Doped with Strontium Cations

Abstract

Electron–hole recombination always competes with desired reactions on semiconductor photocatalysts. Reducing recombination probability is essential for increasing the quantum efficiency of the reactions. Previous studies demonstrated that doping with lanthanoid or alkaline-earth metal cations reduced recombination probability in NaTaO3 photocatalysts for artificial photosynthesis. The motivation behind this study was to reveal how the guest metal cations reduced recombination probability. NaTaO3 photocatalysts were doped with Sr cations through crystallization in molten NaCl flux to produce 50–100 nm sized particles of NaTaO3–Sr(Sr1/3Ta2/3)O3 solid solution. Intraparticle distribution of Sr cations was sensitive to immersion time in the hot flux with a fixed Sr concentration of 2 mol % relative to Ta. Extended immersion for 60 h resulted in a homogeneous Sr distribution. Curtailed immersion for 1 h yielded particles capped with a 3 nm thick Sr-accumulated layer. The population of electrons bandgap-excited under Hg–Xe lamp irradiation was enhanced in the 1-h immersed photocatalyst by 160 times relative to that in a Sr-free NaTaO3 photocatalyst. In the 60-h immersed photocatalyst, population enhancement was not more than 9 times. We interpreted the large population enhancement in the 1-h immersed photocatalyst with a concentration gradient of Sr cations from the surface to bulk. The concentration gradient induced an energy gradient of conduction-band minimum. Photoexcited electrons were driven on the energy gradient to be separated from holes. The overall water splitting reaction rate was evaluated on the photocatalysts to show a 4-times enhancement on the 1-h immersed photocatalyst relative to the rate on the Sr-free photocatalyst. The reaction-rate enhancement less than the electron population enhancement was ascribed to a limited fraction of electrons overriding the energy gradient and returning back to the surface.

Journal

  • ACS Catalysis

    ACS Catalysis 8 (10), 9334-9341, 2018-10

    American Chemical Society

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