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Hufnagel, Alexander G.; Peters, Kristina; Müller, Alexander; Scheu, Christina; Ng, Dina Fattakhova-Rohlfi; Bein, Thomas (2016): Zinc Ferrite Photoanode Nanomorphologies with Favorable Kinetics for Water-Splitting. In: Advanced Functional Materials, Vol. 26, No. 25: pp. 4435-4443
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The n-type semiconducting spinel zinc ferrite (ZnFe2O4) is used as a photoabsorber material for light-driven water-splitting. It is prepared for the first time by atomic layer deposition. Using the resulting well-defined thin films as a model system, the performance of ZnFe2O4 in photoelectrochemical water oxidation is characterized. Compared to benchmark -Fe2O3 (hematite) films, ZnFe2O4 thin films achieve a lower photocurrent at the reversible potential. However, the oxidation onset potential of ZnFe2O4 is 200 mV more cathodic, allowing the water-splitting reaction to proceed at a lower external bias and resulting in a maximum applied-bias power efficiency (ABPE) similar to that of Fe2O3. The kinetics of the water oxidation reaction are examined by intensity-modulated photocurrent spectroscopy. The data indicate a considerably higher charge transfer efficiency of ZnFe2O4 at potentials between 0.8 and 1.3 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode, attributable to significantly slower surface charge recombination. Finally, nanostructured ZnFe2O4 photoanodes employing a macroporous antimony-doped tin oxide current collector reach a five times higher photocurrent than the flat films. The maximum ABPE of these host-guest photoanodes is similarly increased.