Photoelectrochemical activity on Ga-polar and N-polar GaN surfaces for energy conversion

Lin YG, Hsu YK, Basilio AM, Chen YT, Chen KH, Chen LC. 2014. Photoelectrochemical activity on Ga-polar and N-polar GaN surfaces for energy conversion. Optics Express. 22(S1): A21-A27.
 
Hydrogen generation through direct photoelectrolysis of water was studied using photoelectrochemical cells made of different facets of free-standing polar GaN system. To build the fundamental understanding at the differences of surface photochemistry afforded by the GaN {0001}and {000−1}polar surfaces, we correlated the relationship between the surface structure and photoelectrochemical performance on the different polar facets. The photoelectrochemical measurements clearly revealed that the Ga-polar surface had a more negative onset potential relative to the N-polar surface due to the much negative flat-band potential. At more positive applied voltages, however, the N-polar surface yielded much higher photocurrent with conversion efficiency of 0.61% compared to that of 0.55% by using the Ga-polar surface. The reason could be attributed to the variation in the band structure of the different polar facets via Mott-Schottky analyses. Based on this work, understanding the facet effect on photoelectrochemical activity can provide a blueprint for the design of materials in solar hydrogen applications.