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Shanghai, China

Gao X.-D.,Dingxi Road | Li X.-M.,Dingxi Road | Gan X.-Y.,Dingxi Road | Wu Y.-Q.,Dingxi Road | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Materials Chemistry

It is intriguing and challenging to utilize aerogels with a very high surface area to enhance the light-harvesting capacity of a photoanode. Here we demonstrate highly efficient aerogel-modified photoanodes by modifying both the aerogel's microstructure and the photoanode's functions. A low-cost sol-gel and ambient-drying route is developed to fabricate high-quality SiO 2 and SiO 2-TiO 2 hybrid aerogels with tunable surface area (500-1170 m 2 g -1) and packing density (0.03-0.27 g cm -3). Two series of hybrid photoanodes integrating SiO 2-TiO 2 aerogel microparticles and TiO 2 nanocrystallites are designed, to overcome the intrinsic weakness of the mesoporous structure in the electron-transporting property. The aerogel-modified photoanodes yield significantly higher photocurrent densities than the TiO 2 nanocrystallite photoanode due to their increased dye-loading capacity and the enhanced visible light scattering effect. A distinctive interaction enhancement of the cell efficiency between the dye-loading and the light-scattering effect induced by the aerogel microparticles is observed. At optimal conditions (aerogel: 0.202 g cm -3 packing density, 15 wt% incorporation), the primitive aerogel-modified photoanode exhibits a conversion efficiency of 7.57%, much higher than the pure TiO 2 counterpart (3.67%). When optimized with TiCl 4 treatment and a higher film thickness, it shows the highest efficiency of 9.41%, 16% higher than the TiCl 4-treated TiO 2 photoanode modified with a conventional scattering layer. The work affords a simple, powerful and versatile route towards highly efficient hybrid photoanodes utilizing mesoporous materials, and also shows great promise for extension to other applications such as supercapacitors or photocatalysis. This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry. Source

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