KCC Seminar: Enhancing carrier dynamics in metal oxide photoelectrodes through defect control and passivation

Nov 12 2017 03:00 PM - Nov 12 2017 05:00 PM


Metal oxides are attractive photoelectrode materials for photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting, due to their aqueous stability and low cost. However, high efficiency is still hindered by the fact that metal oxides possess relatively poor carrier transport properties (i.e., carrier mobility and lifetime). To illustrate this, carrier mobilities can be as high as 8,500 and 1,500 cm2/Vs in GaAs and Si, respectively,[1] while values of ~0.01-0.1 cm2/Vs are typically observed for metal oxide photoelectrodes (e.g., Fe2O3 and BiVO4).[2-4] Carrier lifetimes are also relatively short, in the range of pico- to nano-seconds.[4,5] In this talk, efforts in enhancing the carrier transport properties in metal oxides by controlling the defects—both intrinsic and extrinsic—in the lattice will be discussed. Examples will be shown based on the development of BiVO4 photoanodes, which is one of the highest performing metal oxides for solar water oxidation. First, by exposing as-deposited BiVO4 to high temperature treatment under different atmosphere, we found that the concentration of intrinsic defects (e.g., oxygen and vanadium vacancies) can be modulated. An optimum heat treatment condition resulted in an increase of carrier mobility by as high as one order of magnitude, as evident from our time-resolved conductivity measurements. Although the carrier lifetime was slightly decreased, the overall diffusion length increased by a factor of ~2. Second, extrinsic defects (i.e., dopants) were also found to greatly influence the carrier transport properties of BiVO4: (i) tungsten decreases both carrier lifetime and mobility,[4] (ii) hydrogen increases carrier lifetime and does not affect the carrier mobility,[6] while (iii) sulfur has no effect on carrier lifetime but increases carrier mobility. The exact causes behind these differences (e.g., defect passivation, trapping) will be discussed. Finally, the interplay between these modifications of carrier transport properties to the PEC properties of BiVO4 will be elucidated.

Biography: Dr. Fatwa Abdi

Fatwa Abdi is a staff scientist and the photoelectrochemistry working group leader at the Institute for Solar Fuels, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). Since 2015, he is a visiting scientist at the School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He obtained his undergraduate degree in 2005 from Nanyang Technological University and masters' degree in 2006 from National University of Singapore and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, all in Materials Science and Engineering. After a short stint in the semiconductor industry, he pursued a PhD at TU Delft, the Netherlands, and graduated cum laude in 2013. He was the recipient of Singapore-MIT Alliance fellowship (2005) and Martinus van Marum prize (2014) from the Royal Dutch Society of Sciences and Humanities. His research interests include the development of metal oxide semiconductors for photoelectrochemical energy conversion and the understanding of the semiconductor-electrolyte interface

2015 - present : Staff Scientist / "Photoelectrochemistry" Working Group Leader at the Institute for Solar Fuels, Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB), Berlin, Germany

2013 - 2015 : Postdoctoral Scientist at the Institute for Solar Fuels, HZB, Berlin, Germany

2007 - 2008 : Engineer in the Dry Etch Engineering Team at Intel Micron Flash Singapore LLC, Singapore and Lehi, UT, USA

2006 - 2007 : Project Officer at the Nanoelectronics Processes and Materials, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

2009 - 2013 : PhD (cum laude) / Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage, Department of Chemical Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

2005 - 2006 : Master of Science / Advance Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems, National University of Singapore, Singapore

2005 - 2006 : Master of Engineering / Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA

2001 - 2005 : Bachelor of Engineering with minor in Business (1st class honours) / School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Selected Publications:
J.-W. Jang, D. Friedrich, S. Müller, M. Lamers, H. Hempel, S. Lardhi, Z. Cao, M. Harb, L. Cavallo, R. Heller, R. Eichberger, R. van de Krol, F. F. Abdi, Enhancing Charge Carrier Lifetime in Metal Oxide Photoelectrodes through Mild Hydrogen Treatment, Advanced Energy Materials, in press, 2017. DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201701536

F. F. Abdi, S. P. Berglund, Recent Developments in Complex Metal Oxide Photoelectrodes, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 50, 2017, 193002. DOI: 10.1088/1361-6463/aa6738

C. Zachäus, F. F. Abdi, L. M. Peter, R. van de Krol, Photocurrent of BiVO4 is Limited by Surface Recombination, not Surface Catalysis, Chemical Science, 8, 2017, 3712-3719. DOI: 10.1039/C7SC00363C