Investigating the Electronic Structure of Prospective Water-Splitting Oxide Before and After Thermal Reduction

Subhayan Roychoudhury, Sarah Shulda, Anuj Goyal, Robert Bell, Sami Sainio, Nicholas Strange, James Park, Eric Coker, Stephan Lany, David Ginley, David Prendergast

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1 Scopus Citations


BaCe0.25Mn0.75O3−δ (BCM), a non-stoichiometric oxide with a layered perovskite-like crystal structure, has recently emerged as a prospective contender for application in renewable energy harvesting by solar thermochemical hydrogen generation. Using solar-thermal energy and a reducing environment, oxygen vacancies can be created in high-temperature BCM, and the reduced crystal so obtained can, in turn, produce H2 by stripping oxygen from H2O. Therefore, a first step toward understanding the working mechanism and optimizing the performance of BCM is a thorough and comparative analysis of the electronic structure of the pristine and the reduced material. In this paper, we probe the electronic structure of BCM using the combined effort of first-principles calculations and experimental O K-edge X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS). The computed projected density of states (PDOS) and orbital plots are used to propose a simplified model for orbital mixing between the oxygen and metal atoms. With the help of state-of-the-art simulations, we are able to find the origins of the XAS peaks and categorize them on the basis of contribution from Ce and Mn. For the reduced crystal, the calculations show that the change in electron density resulting from the reduction is strongly localized around the oxygen vacancy. Experimental measurements reveal a marked lowering of the first O K-edge peak in the reduced crystal. Using theoretical analysis, this is shown to result from lifting of spin degeneracy in the absorption peaks as well as from a diminished O 2p contribution to the frontier unoccupied orbitals, in accordance with the tight binding scheme. The simulated results serve as a reference for the extent of spectral change as a function of the percentage of oxygen vacancies in the reduced crystal. Our study paves the way for the investigation of the working mechanism of BCM and for computational and experimental efforts aimed at design and discovery of efficient water-splitting oxides.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1935-1947
Number of pages13
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 American Chemical Society

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-84331


  • electronic structure
  • hydrogen
  • X-ray absorption spectroscopy


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