Hierarchical metastable γ-TaON hollow structures for efficient visible-light water splitting

Zheng Wang, Jungang Hou, Chao Yang, Shuqiang Jiao, Kai Huang, Hongmin Zhu

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99 Citations (Scopus)


Hierarchical tantalum-based oxide and (oxy)nitride with hollow urchin-like nanostructures have been synthesized for the first time by an in situ self-assembly wet-chemical route in addition with post-thermal nitridation. Notably, a single-phase metastable γ-TaON with hollow urchin-like spheres among the tantalum (oxy)nitrides was obtained during the phase transformation process from an orthorhombic Ta2O5 to a typical monoclinic β-TaON, corresponding the order of phase formation: Ta2O 5 → γ-TaON → β-TaON → Ta3N 5. The combined effect of the crystal and electronic structures and hierarchical morphology on the tunable photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical performances of the tantalum-based photocatalysts was systematically investigated. Efficient photocatalytic hydrogen production as high as 381.6 μmol h-1 with an apparent quantum efficiency of 9.5% under 420 nm irradiation (about 47.5 times higher than that of the conventional TaON) was achieved over this metastable γ-TaON architecture. Furthermore, the hierarchical γ-TaON photoanode exhibited a photocurrent density of ∼1.4 mA cm-2 at 0.8 V vs. SCE in Na2SO4 solution under visible light irradiation. This excellent photocatalytic activity is ascribed to the unique urchin-like nanostructure with large specific surface area, the metastable crystal structure and appropriate electronic structure as well as the efficient charge carrier separation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2134-2144
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jul
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Pollution


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