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Mesoporous thin film WO 3 photoanode for photoelectrochemical water splitting: a sol–gel dip coating approach

Abstract : A facile and cost-efficient method to fabricate a mesoporous structured WO3 photoanode was implemented for use in a tandem dual water splitting photoelectrochemical cell. Semi-transparent thin films of tungsten trioxide were fabricated by sol-gel process, incorporating a block co-polymer to induce a template-directed mesoporous structure. These thin films are deposited by dip coating onto transparent conducting oxide substrates and crystallized at a low temperature of 400°C in air. These thin film photoanodes exhibit a photocurrent of up to 0.6 mA/cm² in potassium phosphate buffers of pH 2, 4, and 6 at 1.23 V vs. RHE under 300 mW/cm² visible (400 – 900 nm) light irradiation with a faradic efficiency of up to 75%. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that corrosion occurs in electrolytes of pH > 4. The faradic efficiencies in varying pH solutions however suggest that parasitic redox reactions occurs in acidic conditions, limiting the O2 production and demonstrating the need for stable surface co-catalysts to increase faradic efficiencies. In neutral conditions, protective layers and/or co-catalysts are needed for increasing WO3 photoanode stability.
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Samantha Hilliard, Guido Baldinozzi, Dennis Friedrich, Stéphane Kressman, Henri Strub, et al.. Mesoporous thin film WO 3 photoanode for photoelectrochemical water splitting: a sol–gel dip coating approach. Sustainable Energy & Fuels, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2017, 1, pp.145-153 ⟨10.1039/C6SE00001K⟩. ⟨hal-01436567⟩

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