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Harvesting, Storing and Utilising Solar Energy using MoO3: Modulating Structural Distortion through pH Adjustment

Authors

  • Shi Nee Lou,

    1. Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)
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  • Dr. Yun Hau Ng,

    Corresponding author
    1. Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)
    • Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)===

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  • Dr. Charlene Ng,

    1. Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)
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  • Dr. Jason Scott,

    1. Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)
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  • Prof. Rose Amal

    1. Particles and Catalysis Research Group (PARTCAT), School of Chemical Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052 (Australia)
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Abstract

Nanostructured molybdenum oxide (α-MoO3) thin film photoelectrodes were synthesised by anodisation. Upon band gap-excitation by light illumination, α-MoO3 is able to store a portion of the excited charges in its layered structure with the simultaneous intercalation of alkali cations. The stored electrons can be discharged from α-MoO3 for utilisation under dark conditions, and α-MoO3 is able to recharge itself with successive illuminations to behave as a ‘self-photo-rechargeable’ alkali-ion battery. The alteration of the anodisation pH allowed the crystal structure and oxygen vacancy concentrations of α-MoO3 to be modulated to achieve (i) a distorted MoO6 octahedra for enhanced charge separation and storage, (ii) a layered structure with a greater exposed (010) crystal face for rich and reversible ion intercalation and (iii) a highly crystalline thin film that suppresses electron–hole pair recombination. Overall, the larger MoO6 octahedral distortion in α-MoO3 at a higher pH favours charge storage, whereas smaller octahedral distortion at a lower pH leads to anodic photocurrent enhancement.

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