We demonstrate scalable, low-cost and low-temperature (<100 °C) aqueous chemical growth of bismuth–zinc vanadate (BiZn2VO6) nanocompounds by BiVO4 growth on ZnO nanobelts (NBs). The nanocompounds were further doped with polyethylene glycol (PEG) to tune the electronic structure of the materials, as a means to lower the charge carrier recombination rate. The chemical composition, morphology, and detailed nanostructure of the BiZn2VO6 nanocompounds were characterized. They exhibit rice-like morphology, are highly dense on the substrate and possess a good crystalline quality. Photoelectrochemical characterization in 0.1 M lithium perchlorate in carbonate propylene shows that BiZn2VO6 nanocompounds are highly suitable as anodes for solar-driven photoelectrochemical applications, providing significantly better performance than with only ZnO NBs. This performance could be attributed to the heterogeneous catalysis effect at nanocompound and ZnO NB interfaces, which have enhanced the electron transfer process on the electrode surface. Furthermore, the charge collection efficiency could be significantly improved through PEG doping of nanocompounds. The photocurrent density of PEG-doped BiZn2VO6 nanocompounds reached values of 2 mA cm−2 at 1.23 V (vs. Ag/AgCl), over 60% larger than that of undoped BiZn2VO6 nanocompounds. Photoluminescence emission experiments confirmed that PEG plays a crucial role in lowering the charge carrier recombination rate. The presented BiZn2VO6 nanocompounds are shown to provide highly competitive performance compared with other state-of-the art photoelectrodes.
The goal of this thesis is the development of scalable, low cost synthesis of metal oxide nanostructures based electrodes and to correlate the chemical modifications with their energy conversion performance. Methods in energy conversion in this thesis have focused on two aspects; a potentiometric chemical sensor was used to determine the analytical concentration of some components of the analyte solution such as dopamine, glucose and glutamate molecules. The second aspect is to fabricate a photo-electrochemical (PEC) cell. The biocompatibility, excellent electro-catalytic activities and fast electron transfer kinetics accompanied with a high surface area to volume ratio; are properties of some metal oxide nanostructures that of a potential for their use in energy conversion. Furthermore, metal oxide nanostructures based electrode can effectively be improved by the physical or a chemical modification of electrode surface. Among these metal oxide nanostructures are cobalt oxide (Co3O4), zinc oxide (ZnO), and bismuth-zincvanadate (BiZn2VO6) have all been studied in this thesis. Metal oxide nanostructures based electrodes are fabricated on gold-coated glass substrate by low temperature (< 100 0C) wet chemicalapproach. X-ray diffraction, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy were used to characterize the electrodes while ultraviolet-visible absorption and photoluminescence were used to investigate the optical properties of the nanostructures. The resultant modified electrodes were tested for their performance as chemical sensors and for their efficiency in PEC activities. Efficient chemically modified electrodes were demonstrated through doping with organic additives like anionic, nonionic or cationic surfactants. The organic additives are showing a crucial role in the growth process of metal oxide nanocrystals and hence can beused to control the morphology. These organic additives act also as impurities that would significantly change the conductivity of the electrodes. However, no organic compounds dependence was observed to modify the crystallographic structure. The findings in this thesis indicate the importance of the use of controlled nanostructures morphology for developing efficient functional materials.