Enhancing long-term photostability of BiVO4 photoanodes for solar water splitting by tuning electrolyte composition



As the performance of photoelectrodes used for solar water splitting continues to improve, enhancing the long-term stability of the photoelectrodes becomes an increasingly crucial issue. In this study, we report that tuning the composition of the electrolyte can be used as a strategy to suppress photocorrosion during solar water splitting. Anodic photocorrosion of BiVO4 photoanodes involves the loss of V5+ from the BiVO4 lattice by dissolution. We demonstrate that the use of a V5+-saturated electrolyte, which inhibits the photooxidation-coupled dissolution of BiVO4, can serve as a simple yet effective method to suppress anodic photocorrosion of BiVO4. The V5+ species in the solution can also incorporate into the FeOOH/NiOOH oxygen-evolution catalyst layer present on the BiVO4 surface during water oxidation, further enhancing water-oxidation kinetics. The effect of the V5+ species in the electrolyte on both the long-term photostability of BiVO4 and the performance of the FeOOH/NiOOH oxygen-evolution catalyst layer is systematically elucidated.

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This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the NSF Center CHE-1305124. The authors thank D.-H. Nam for his valuable suggestions and discussion for the study.

Author information


  1. Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA

    • Dong Ki Lee
    •  & Kyoung-Shin Choi


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K.-S.C. and D.K.L. planned the experiments, interpreted the experimental results and wrote the manuscript. D.K.L. performed all experiments and K.-S.C. supervised the project.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kyoung-Shin Choi.

Supplementary information

  1. Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Figures 1–10 and Supplementary Tables 1–3