Tuning p-Si(111) Photovoltage via Molecule|Semiconductor Electronic Coupling

Dylan G. Boucher, Kara Kearney, Elif Ertekin, Michael J. Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Photoelectrochemical (PEC) device efficiency depends heavily on the energetics and band alignment of the semiconductor|overlayer junction. Exerting energetic control over these junctions via molecular functionalization is an extremely attractive strategy. Herein we report a study of the structure-function relationship between chemically functionalized pSi(111) and the resulting solar fuels performance. Specifically, we highlight the interplay of chemical structure and electronic coupling between the attached molecule and the underlying semiconductor. Covalent attachment of aryl surface modifiers (phenyl, Ph; nitrophenyl, PhNO2; anthracene, Anth; and nitroanthracene, AnthNO2) resulted in high-fidelity surfaces with low defect densities (S < 50 cm/s). Electrochemical characterization of these surfaces in contact with methyl viologen resulted in systematically shifted band edges (up to 0.99 V barrier height) and correspondingly high photoelectrochemical performance (Voc up to 0.43 V vs MV2+) consistent with the introduction of a positive interfacial dipole. We extend this functionalization to HER conditions and demonstrate systematic tuning of the HER Voc using pSi(111)-R|TiO2|Pt architecture. Correlation of the shifts in barrier height with the photovoltage provides evidence for nonideality despite low surface recombination. Critically, DFT calculations of the electronic structure of the organic-functionalized interfaces show that the molecule-based electronic states effectively hybridized with the silicon band edges. A comparison of these interfacial states with their isolated molecular analogues further confirms electronic coupling between the attached molecule and the underlying semiconductor, providing an induced density of interfacial states (IDIS) which decreases the potential drop across the semiconductor. These results demonstrate the delicate interplay between interfacial chemical structure, interfacial dipole, and electronic structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2567-2580
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 17 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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