Near-complete suppression of oxygen evolution for photoelectrochemical H2O oxidative H2O2 synthesis

Kan Zhang, Jong Hyeok Park, Jiali Liu, Luyang Wang, Bingjun Jin, Xiaofei Yang, Shengli Zhang

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131 Citations (Scopus)


Solar energy-assisted water oxidative hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production on an anode combined with H2 production on a cathode increases the value of solar water splitting, but the challenge of the dominant oxidative product, O2, needs to be overcome. Here, we report a SnO2-x overlayer coated BiVO4 photoanode, which demonstrates the great ability to near-completely suppress O2 evolution for photoelectrochemical (PEC) H2O oxidative H2O2 evolution. Based on the surface hole accumulation measured by surface photovoltage, downward quasi-hole Fermi energy at the photoanode/electrolyte interface and thermodynamic Gibbs free energy between 2-electron and 4-electron competitive reactions, we are able to consider the photoinduced holes of BiVO4 that migrate to the SnO2-x overlayer kinetically favor H2O2 evolution with great selectivity by reduced band bending. The formation of H2O2 may be mediated by the formation of hydroxyl radicals (OH·), from 1-electron water oxidation reactions, as evidenced by spin-trapping electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) studies conducted herein. In addition to the H2O oxidative H2O2 evolution from PEC water splitting, the SnO2-x/BiVO4 photoanode can also inhibit H2O2 decomposition into O2 under either electrocatalysis or photocatalysis conditions for continuous H2O2 accumulation. Overall, the SnO2-x/BiVO4 photoanode achieves a Faraday efficiency (FE) of over 86% for H2O2 generation in a wide potential region (0.6-2.1 V vs reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE)) and an H2O2 evolution rate averaging 0.825 μmol/min/ cm2 at 1.23 V vs RHE under AM 1.5 illumination, corresponding to a solar to H2O2 efficiency of ∼5.6%; this performance surpasses almost all previous solar energy-assisted H2O2 evolution performances. Because of the simultaneous production of H2O2 and H2 by solar water splitting in the PEC cells, our results highlight a potentially greener and more cost-effective approach for “solar-to-fuel” conversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8641-8648
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May 13

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 American Chemical Society

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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