Superior tunable photocatalytic properties for water splitting in two dimensional GeC/SiC van der Waals heterobilayers

Sci Rep. 2021 Sep 6;11(1):17739. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97251-1.

ABSTRACT

The photocatalytic characteristics of two-dimensional (2D) GeC-based van der Waals heterobilayers (vdW-HBL) are systematically investigated to determine the amount of hydrogen (H2) fuel generated by water splitting. We propose several vdW-HBL structures consisting of 2D-GeC and 2D-SiC with exceptional and tunable optoelectronic properties. The structures exhibit a negative interlayer binding energy and non-negative phonon frequencies, showing that the structures are dynamically stable. The electronic properties of the HBLs depend on the stacking configuration, where the HBLs exhibit direct bandgap values of 1.978 eV, 2.278 eV, and 2.686 eV. The measured absorption coefficients for the HBLs are over ~ 105 cm-1, surpassing the prevalent conversion efficiency of optoelectronic materials. In the absence of external strain, the absorption coefficient for the HBLs reaches around 1 × 106 cm-1. With applied strain, absorption peaks are increased to ~ 3.5 times greater in value than the unstrained HBLs. Furthermore, the HBLs exhibit dynamically controllable bandgaps via the application of biaxial strain. A decrease in the bandgap occurs for both the HBLs when applied biaxial strain changes from the compressive to tensile strain. For + 4% tensile strain, the structure I become unsuitable for photocatalytic water splitting. However, in the biaxial strain range of – 6% to + 6%, both structure II and structure III have a sufficiently higher kinetic potential for demonstrating photocatalytic water-splitting activity in the region of UV to the visible in the light spectrum. These promising properties obtained for the GeC/SiC vdW heterobilayers suggest an application of the structures could boost H2 fuel production via water splitting.

PMID:34489541 | DOI:10.1038/s41598-021-97251-1

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