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Research Article | Open Access

Nitrogen incorporated oxygen vacancy enriched MnCo2Ox/BiVO4 photoanodes for efficient and stable photoelectrochemical water splitting

Liangcheng Xu1Yingjuan Zhang1Boyan Liu1Xin Wang1Gangqiang Zhu2( )Lianzhou Wang3( )Songcan Wang1,4( )Wei Huang1( )
Frontiers Science Center for Flexible Electronics, Xi’an Institute of Flexible Electronics (IFE), Northwestern Polytechnical University, 127 West Youyi Road, Xi’an 710072, China
School of Physics and Information Technology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi’an 710062, China
Nanomaterials Centre, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia
Research & Development Institute of Northwestern Polytechnical University in Shenzhen, Sanhang Science & Technology Building, No. 45th, Gaoxin South 9th Road, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518063, China
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Graphical Abstract

A portion of oxygen vacancies in MnCo2Ox oxygen evolution cocatalyst (OEC) on bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) surface are filled with N atoms, exhibiting an excellent photocurrent density of up to 6.5 mA·cm−2 at 1.23 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) under AM 1.5 G illumination.


Oxygen vacancies in oxygen evolution cocatalysts (OECs) can significantly improve the photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting performance of photoanodes. However, OECs with abundant oxygen vacancies have a poor stability when exposing to the highly-oxidizing photogenerated holes. Herein, we partly fill oxygen vacancies in a MnCo2Ox OEC with N atoms by a combined electrodeposition and sol-gel method, which dramatically improves both photocurrent density and stability of a BiVO4 photoanode. The optimized N filled oxygen vacancy-rich MnCo2Ox/BiVO4 photoanode (3 at.% of N) exhibits an outstanding photocurrent density of 6.5 mA·cm−2 at 1.23 VRHE under AM 1.5 G illumination (100 mW·cm−2), and an excellent stability of over 150 h. Systematic characterizations and theoretical calculations demonstrate that N atoms stabilize the defect structure and modulate the surface electron distribution, which significantly enhances the stability and further increases the photocurrent density. Meanwhile, other heteroatoms such as carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur are confirmed to have similar effects on improving PEC water splitting performance of photoanodes.

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Nano Research
Pages 1140-1150
Cite this article:
Xu L, Zhang Y, Liu B, et al. Nitrogen incorporated oxygen vacancy enriched MnCo2Ox/BiVO4 photoanodes for efficient and stable photoelectrochemical water splitting. Nano Research, 2024, 17(3): 1140-1150.








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Received: 14 May 2023
Revised: 14 June 2023
Accepted: 18 June 2023
Published: 26 July 2023
© The Author(s) 2023

Copyright: © 2023 by the author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), visit