Enhanced photoelectrochemical performance of atomic layer deposited Hf-doped ZnO

Boulos Alfakes, Corrado Garlisi, Juan Villegas, Abdulrahman Al-Hagri, Srinivasa Tamalampudi, Nitul S. Rajput, Jin You Lu, Erik Lewin, Jacinto Sá, Ibraheem Almansouri, Giovanni Palmisano, Matteo Chiesa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Generation of hydrogen using photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting has attracted researchers for the last two decades. Several materials have been utilized as a photoanode in a water splitting cell, including ZnO due to its abundance, low production cost and suitable electronic structure. Most research attempts focused on doping ZnO to tailor its properties for a specific application. In this work, atomic layer deposition (ALD) was used to precisely dope ZnO with hafnium (Hf) in order to enhance its PEC performance. The resultant doped materials showed a significant improvement in PEC efficiency compared to pristine ZnO, which is linked directly to Hf introduction revealed by detailed optical, structural and electrical analyses. The photocurrent obtained in the best performing Hf-doped sample (0.75 wt% Hf) was roughly threefold higher compared to the undoped ZnO. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and open-circuit potential-decay (OCPD) measurements confirmed suppression in photocarriers' surface recombination in the doped films, which led to a more efficient PEC water oxidation. The enhanced PEC performance of Hf-doped ZnO and effectiveness of the used metal dopant are credited to the synergistic optimization of chemical composition, which enhanced the electrical, structural including morphological, and optical properties of the final material, making Hf-doping an attractive candidate for novel PEC electrodes.

Original languageBritish English
Article number125352
JournalSurface and Coatings Technology
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2020


  • Hf doped ZnO
  • Photoelectrochemical
  • Water splitting


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