Abdi, F.F.; Dabirian, A.; Dam, B.; van de Krol, R.: Plasmonic enhancement of the optical absorption and catalytic efficiency of BiVO4 photoanodes decorated with Ag@SiO2 core-shell nanoparticles. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 16 (2014), p. 15272-15277

Recent progress in the development of bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) photoanodes has firmly established it as a promising material for solar water splitting applications. Performance limitations due to intrinsically poor catalytic activity and slow electron transport have been successfully addressed through the application of water oxidation co-catalysts and novel doping strategies. The next bottleneck to tackle is the modest optical absorption in BiVO4, particularly close to its absorption edge of 2.4 eV. Here, we explore the modification of the BiVO4 surface with Ag@SiO2 core–shell plasmonic nanoparticles. A photocurrent enhancement by a factor of B2.5 is found under 1 sun illumination (AM1.5). We show that this enhancement consists of two contributions: optical absorption and catalysis. The pptical absorption enhancement is induced by the excitation of localized surface plasmon resonances in the Ag nanoparticles, and agrees well with our full-field electromagnetic simulations. Far-field effects (scattering) are found to be dominant, with a smaller contribution from near-field plasmonic enhancement. In addition, a significant catalytic enhancement is observed, which is tentatively attributed to the electrocatalytic activity of the Ag@SiO2 nanoparticles.