Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (10): 1157-1164.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201812054

Special Issue: Two-Dimensional Materials and Devices

• Article • Previous Articles    

Construction of Advanced Two-dimensional Heterostructure Ag/WO3−x for Enhancing Photoelectrochemical Performance

Yumei REN,Qun XU*()   

  • Received:2018-12-30 Accepted:2019-01-28 Published:2019-02-20
  • Contact: Qun XU
  • Supported by:
    The project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21773216);The project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51173170);The project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21571157);Innovation Talents Award of Henan Province, China(114200510019)


Solar energy, which is clean, affordable and reliable, can help alleviate the current environmental pollution and energy crisis efficiently. In the past few decades, great progress has been made in harvesting and converting solar energy into chemical energy. Among various technologies, plasmon-induced photoelectrochemistry has been proposed as a promising alternative for solar energy conversion. The hot electrons generated from plasmon excitation and transfer from metal nanostructures to semiconductors is a potential new paradigm for solar energy conversion. However, the ultrafast decay of the hot carriers is unfavorable for the improvement of photocatalytic efficiency. Therefore, finding more efficient photocatalysts, with enhanced light absorption and a longer carrier lifetime, is of paramount importance for improving the conversion efficiency of solar energy, but their fabrication is challenging. In this work, a plasmonic metal/semiconductor heterostructure based on Ag nanoparticles embedded in two-dimensional (2D) amorphous sub-stoichiometric tungsten trioxide (a-WO3−x), followed by annealing, was successfully fabricated. Firstly, the peculiar nanostructure of 2D a-WO3−x was successfully constructed from WS2 nanosheets with supercritical CO2 (SC CO2) at 200 ℃. Secondly, the Ag/a-WO3−x heterostructure was synthesized using an in situ reduction method. Finally, the obtained 2D heterostructure of Ag/WO3−x was annealed at 400 ℃ in N2 to further improve its stability and conductivity. X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) were used to characterize the structure, morphology, and composition of the material, respectively. UV-Vis spectra were also measured to evaluate light adsorption. Characterization results show that the amorphous structure can effectively anchor metal nanoparticles, and the metal nanoparticles are uniformly dispersed in the amorphous region and have a small size. The as-prepared nanocomposites showed efficient photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting when serving as photoelectrode materials, and efficient PEC activity towards photo-oxidation degradation currents under excitation of Ag localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR). The photocurrent response of the Ag/WO3−x heterostructure was approximately five times greater than that of a-WO3−x. Moreover, the PEC degradation efficiency of Ag/WO3−x reached 96.7% for MO under Vis light illumination (after reaction for 120 min), while the PEC degradation efficiency of WO3−x was only 63.6%. The high PEC performance of the composite photoanode can be ascribed to the local surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) effect of the Ag nanoparticles, which can enhance the light absorption and hot electron transformation. Moreover, the construction of local crystalline-amorphous interfaces can further promote the separation efficiency of the photogenerated electron-hole pairs, and thus increase conductivity. This work provides a positive strategy for the fabrication of advanced photocatalysts, and a new perspective on understanding of the synergistic effects of structural and electronic regulations.

Key words: Two-dimensional material, Plasmonic metal/semiconductor heterostructure, PEC conversion


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