Hilliard, S.; Friedrich, D.; Kressman, S.; Strub, H.; Artero, V.; Laberty-Robert, C.: Solar-Water-Splitting BiVO4 Thin-Film Photoanodes Prepared By Using a Sol-Gel Dip-Coating Technique. ChemPhotoChem 1 (2017), p. 273-280

A facile and low cost method to construct a bismuth vanadate thin film photoanode was implemented with the aim of integrating it in a tandem dual water splitting photoelectrochemical cell. Multilayer semi-transparent thin films of BiVO4 were fabricated by a sol–gel process and deposited by dip-coating onto transparent conducting oxide substrates with intermediate annealing treatment between layers and final calcination at a low temperature of 450 °C in air. The effect of the intermediate annealing temperature has a great impact on the porosity, and therefore density, of thin layers of BiVO4 when fabricated by sol–gel dip-coating methods; thus, for optimal activity, the annealing temperature should be kept at 400 °C for thinner layers and 450 °C for thicker layers. The annealing temperature has a direct effect on the size of the crystallites which determines the microstructural density and porosity. In contrast, the final calcination temperature must be 450 °C in order to achieve good electrochemical performances. Optimized BiVO4 photoanodes exhibit a photocurrent of up to 2.1 mA cm−2 with an average Faradic efficiency of 85 % for oxygen evolution in neutral pH potassium phosphate buffer at 1.23 V vs. RHE under 350 mW cm−2 light irradiation.