Facile solution synthesis of α-FeF3·3H2O nanowires and their conversion to α-Fe2O3 nanowires for photoelectrochemical application.

Research paper by Linsen L Li, Yanghai Y Yu, Fei F Meng, Yizheng Y Tan, Robert J RJ Hamers, Song S Jin

Indexed on: 05 Jan '12Published on: 05 Jan '12Published in: Nano Letters


We report for the first time the facile solution growth of α-FeF(3)·3H(2)O nanowires (NWs) in large quantity at a low supersaturation level and their scalable conversion to porous semiconducting α-Fe(2)O(3) (hematite) NWs of high aspect ratio via a simple thermal treatment in air. The structural characterization by transmission electron microscopy shows that thin α-FeF(3)·3H(2)O NWs (typically <100 nm in diameter) are converted to single-crystal α-Fe(2)O(3) NWs with internal pores, while thick ones (typically >100 nm in diameter) become polycrystalline porous α-Fe(2)O(3) NWs. We further demonstrated the photoelectrochemical (PEC) application of the nanostructured photoelectrodes prepared from these converted hematite NWs. The optimized photoelectrode with a ~400 nm thick hematite NW film yielded a photocurrent density of 0.54 mA/cm(2) at 1.23 V vs reversible hydrogen electrode potential after modification with cobalt catalyst under standard conditions (AM 1.5 G, 100 mW/cm(2), pH = 13.6, 1 M NaOH). The low cost, large quantity, and high aspect ratio of the converted hematite NWs, together with the resulting simpler photoelectrode preparation, can be of great benefit for hematite-based PEC water splitting. Furthermore, the ease and scalability of the conversion from hydrated fluoride NWs to oxide NWs suggest a potentially versatile and low-cost strategy to make NWs of other useful iron-based compounds that may enable their large-scale renewable energy applications.