Transparent nano-structured hematite (α-Fe2O3) films of approximately 550 nm thickness on tin-doped indium oxide (ITO) have been obtained conveniently by ink-jet printing of a Fe(NO3)3/Brij® O10 precursor ink and subsequent annealing at 500 °C in air. When illuminated with a blue LED (λ = 455 nm, ca. 100 mW cm−2), the hematite films exhibited photocurrents of up to 70 μA cm−2 at 0.4 V vs. SCE in 0.1 M NaOH electrolyte. Thermal annealing in vacuum at 500 °C for 2 h increased photocurrents more than three times to 230 μA cm−2 in agreement with previous literature reports for pure hematite materials.
These results suggest that a simple ink-jetting process with surfactants is viable. The effects of vacuum-annealing on the photoelectrical properties of α-Fe2O3 films are discussed in terms of a sub-surface state templating hypothesis based on data gathered from photo-transients, field emission scanning electron microscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis, X-ray diffraction, photocurrent spectra, and cyclic voltammetry.
Bondarchuk, A.N., Peter, L.M., Kissling, G.P., Madrid, E., Aguilar-Martínez, J.A., Rymansaib, Z., Iravani, P., Gromboni, M., Mascaro, L.H., Walsh, A. and Marken, F., 2017. Vacuum-annealing induces sub-surface redox-states in surfactant-structured α-Fe2O3 photoanodes prepared by ink-jet printing. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, (211), pp.289-295.
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