Improving solar cell design through photocatalysis

Chinese group show semiconductors can improve efficiency of photocatalysis, with potential in turn for better solar cells.

semiconductor-photocatalyst-nanoparticles-for-solar-cellsVisible-light photocatalysis that can directly harvest energy from incoming solar energy offers a desirable way to solve energy and environment issues. However, the efficiency of photocatalysis is too low to be used in practical cases, in particular due to the fast recombination of the photo-induced electron-hole pairs. Until now, such problems have been addressed by constructing semiconductor heterojunction structures to increase charge separation efficiency.

Now, new work from a Chinese research group demonstrates that with rational structure design, heterojunction photocatalysts with semiconductors of small potential differences can also achieve efficient separation of electron-hole pairs. Specifically, Ag3PO4 nanoparticles can be preferentially deposited on highly active BiVO4(040) facets by means of heterojunction construction via a surfactant-mediated mechanism, which the team confirm via density functional theory calculations.

This homotype Ag3PO4/BiVO4(040) heterojunction photocatalyst shows high charge separation efficiency as well as enhanced visible-light response ability and thus possesses superior visible light photocatalytic activity. Their work could provide guidance for the fabrication of solar-energy conversion materials by combining the concepts of homotype heterojunction construction together with rational structure design.

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