[Nature Communications] Atomically thin photoanode of InSe/graphene heterostructure
Abstract: Achieving high-efficiency photoelectrochemical water splitting requires a better understanding of ion kinetics, e.g., diffusion, adsorption and reactions, near the photoelectrode’s surface. However, with macroscopic three-dimensional electrodes, it is often difficult to disentangle the contributions of surface effects to the total photocurrent from that of various factors in the bulk. Here, we report a photoanode made from a InSe crystal monolayer that is encapsulated with monolayer graphene to ensure high stability. We choose InSe among other photoresponsive two-dimensional (2D) materials because of its unique properties of high mobility and strongly suppressing electron–hole pair recombination. Using the atomically thin electrodes, we obtained a photocurrent with a density >10 mA cm−2 at 1.23 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode, which is several orders of magnitude greater than other 2D photoelectrodes. In addition to the outstanding characteristics of InSe, we attribute the enhanced photocurrent to the strong coupling between the hydroxide ions and photo-generated holes near the anode surface. As a result, a persistent current even after illumination ceased was also observed due to the presence of ions trapped holes with suppressed electron-hole recombination. Our results provide atomically thin materials as a platform for investigating ion kinetics at the electrode surface and shed light on developing next-generation photoelectrodes with high efficiency.