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Semiconductor interfacial carrier dynamics via photoinduced electric fields

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Science  27 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6264, pp. 1061-1065
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3459

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Charge separation viewed in reflection

When light strikes a semiconductor, excited electrons travel across the interface. Y. Yang et al. applied ultrafast reflection spectroscopy to probe this process in a gallium indium phosphide system used for hydrogen generation from water (see the Perspective by Hansen et al.). Platinum and titanium dioxide (TiO2) coatings enhanced charge separation of the excited electrons from the positive holes they left behind. TiO2, however, was more effective at suppressing the reverse process of unproductive recombination.

Science, this issue p. 1061; see also p. 1030

Abstract

Solar photoconversion in semiconductors is driven by charge separation at the interface of the semiconductor and contacting layers. Here we demonstrate that time-resolved photoinduced reflectance from a semiconductor captures interfacial carrier dynamics. We applied this transient photoreflectance method to study charge transfer at p-type gallium-indium phosphide (p-GaInP2) interfaces critically important to solar-driven water splitting. We monitored the formation and decay of transient electric fields that form upon photoexcitation within bare p-GaInP2, p-GaInP2/platinum (Pt), and p-GaInP2/amorphous titania (TiO2) interfaces. The data show that a field at both the p-GaInP2/Pt and p-GaInP2/TiO2 interfaces drives charge separation. Additionally, the charge recombination rate at the p-GaInP2/TiO2 interface is greatly reduced owing to its p-n nature, compared with the Schottky nature of the p-GaInP2/Pt interface.

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