Maximizing the electronic charge carriers in donor-doped hematite under oxygen-rich conditions via doping and co-doping strategies revealed by density functional theory calculations

Author's Department

Energy Materials Laboratory

All Authors

Hoda El-Gibally, Shehab Shousha, Nageh K. Allam, and Mostafa Youssef

Document Type

Research Article

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The low electronic conductivity of hematite (α-Fe2O3) limits its best performance in many applications. Though highly reducing conditions induce an intrinsic n-type behavior, reaching extremely low oxygen partial pressure (pO2) values is not practical. Alternatively, certain dopants provide hematite with excess electrons at practical pO2 values. This study employs density functional theory with thermodynamic analysis to compute the concentration of electronic defects in hematite as a function of pO2, upon doping with 1% of 3d, 4d, and 5d transition metals. Isothermal Kröger–Vink diagrams at 1100 K are plotted to reveal the charge compensation mechanism controlling the electronic carriers in doped hematite and the maximum attainable pO2 value, which achieves approximately one electron per dopant. A higher pO2 value is a metric for an effective donor. Ti, Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta, Mo, and W are shown to be effective donors, especially Nb, Ta, and W, which achieve a 1:1 electron/dopant ratio around atmospheric pressure and a maximum electron/dopant ratio greater than one. The latter is a new metric introduced in this study to quantify the doping efficacy of a donor. Moreover, our study shows that W, Ta, and Nb co-doping in specific percentages with any of the other investigated dopants ensures the n-type behavior of the co-doped hematite while opening the possibility of improving other properties via the other dopant. The other dopant can be Ni or Co to enhance the surface catalytic properties or Zn to increase the minority hole carriers. Both properties are desirable in applications such as photoelectrochemical cells.

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