We investigate essential fundamental properties of monoclinic (Ta1-xNbx)ON (x = 0.0625, 0.125, 0.25, and 0.5) solid solution semiconductor materials for water splitting using first-principles computations on the basis of density functional theory (DFT) and density functional perturbation theory (DFPT) using the PBE and HSE06 functionals. The formation energies, band gaps, UV-vis optical absorption coefficients, dielectric constants, charge carrier effective masses, and band edge energy positions of these compounds are evaluated. Similarly to TaON, our calculations reveal strongly 3D delocalized characters of the band edge electronic states through the crystal lattices, high dielectric constants, small hole effective masses along the  direction, and small electron effective masses along the  direction. This leads to good exciton dissociation ability into free charge carriers, good hole mobility along the  direction, and good electron mobility along the  direction. The main difference, however, is related to their band edge positions with respect to water redox potentials. TaON with a calculated band gap energy of 3.0 eV is predicted as a good candidate for water oxidation and O2 evolution while the (Ta1-xNbx)ON materials (for 0.25 ≤ x ≤ 0.5) with calculated band gap energies between 2.8 and 2.9 eV reveal suitable band edge positions for water oxidation and H+ reduction. These results offer a grand opportunity for these compounds to be properly synthesized and tested for solar-driven overall water-splitting reactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials