Photoactive Zinc Ferrites Fabricated via Conventional CVD Approach
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Owing to its narrow band gap and promising magnetic and photocatalytic properties, thin films of zinc ferrite (ZFO, ZnFe2O4) are appealing for fabrication of devices in magnetic recording media and photoelectrochemical cells. Herein we report for the first time the fabrication of photactive zinc ferrites via a solvent free, conventional CVD approach, and the resulting ZFO layers show promise as a photocatalyst in PEC water-splitting. For large scale applications, chemical vapor deposition (CVD) routes are appealing for thin film deposition; however, very little is known about ZFO synthesis following CVD processes. The challenge in precisely controlling the composition for multicomponent material systems, such as ZFO, via conventional thermal CVD is an issue that is caused mainly by the mismatch in thermal properties of the precursors. The approach of using two different classes of precursors for zinc and iron with a close match in thermal windows led to the formation of polycrystalline spinel type ZFO. Under the optimized process conditions, it was possible to fabricate solely ZFO in the desired phase. This work demonstrates the potential of employing CVD to obtain photoactive ternary material systems in the right composition. For the first time, the application of CVD grown ZFO films for photoelectrochemical applications is being demonstrated, showing a direct band gap of 2.3 eV and exhibiting activity for visible light driven photoelectrochemical water splitting.