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Langmuir. 2013 Jun 11;29(23):7025-37. doi: 10.1021/la4014812. Epub 2013 May 28.

A theoretical study of water adsorption and decomposition on low-index spinel ZnGa2O4 surfaces: correlation between surface structure and photocatalytic properties.

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State Key Laboratory of Crystal Materials, Shandong University, Jinan 250100, China.


Water adsorption and decomposition on stoichiometrically perfect and oxygen vacancy containing ZnGa2O4 (100), (110), and (111) surfaces were investigated through periodic density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The results demonstrated that water adsorption and decomposition are surface-structure-sensitive processes. On a stoichiometrically perfect surface, the most stable molecular adsorption that could take place involved the generation of hydrogen bonds. For dissociative adsorption, the adsorption energy of the (111) surface was more than 4 times the energies of the other two surfaces, indicating it to be the best surface for water decomposition. A detailed comparison of these three surfaces showed that the primary reason for this observation was the special electronic state of the (111) surface. When water dissociated on the (111) surface, the special Ga3c-4s and 4p hybridization states at the Fermi level had an obvious downshift to the lower energies. This large energy gain greatly promoted the dissociation of water. Because the generation of O(3c) vacancy defects on the (100) and (110) surfaces could increase the stability of the dissociative adsorption states with few changes to the energy barrier, this type of defect would make the decomposition of water molecules more favorable. However, for the (111) surface, the generation of vacancy defects could decrease the stability of the dissociative adsorption states and significantly increase their energy barriers. Therefore, the decomposition of water molecules on the oxygen vacancy defective (111) surface would be less favorable than the perfect (111) surface. These findings on the decomposition of H2O on the ZnGa2O4 surfaces can be used toward the synthesis of water-splitting catalysts.

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