Nano Research

Article Title

Design of sandwich-structured ZnO/ZnS/Au photoanode for enhanced efficiency of photoelectrochemical water splitting


ZnO, ZnS, Au, photoanode, photoelectrochemical water splitting


We developed and demonstrated a ZnO/ZnS/Au composite photoanode with significantly enhanced photoelectrochemical water-splitting performance, containing a ZnS interlayer and Au nanoparticles. The solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of this ZnO/ZnS/Au heterostructure reached 0.21%, 3.5 times that of pristine ZnO. The comparison of the incident photon-to-current efficiency (IPCE) and the photoresponse in the white and visible light regions further verified that the enhancement resulted from contributions of both UV and visible light. The modification of the Au NPs was shown to improve the photoelectrochemical (PEC) performance to both UV and visible light, as modification encouraged effective surface passivation and surface-plasmonresonance effects. The ZnS interlayer favored the movement of photogenerated electrons under UV light and hot electrons under visible light, causing their injection into ZnO; this simultaneously suppressed the electron-hole recombination at the photoanode-electrolyte interface. The optimized design of the interlayer within plasmonic metal/semiconductor composite systems, as reported here, provided a facile and compatible photoelectrode configuration, enhancing the utilization efficiency of incident light for photoelectrochemical applications.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press