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The mixed valence cobalt oxide, Co3O4, exhibits intriguing chemical and catalytic properties and is also a potential candidate as a photovoltaic material. This work presents a detailed comparative study of the mixed valence cobalt oxide and the single valence CoO and Co2O3 oxides. Specifically, density functional theory is employed to study the electronic structure and chemical bonding of these single and mixed valence cobalt oxide materials.
The mixed valence cobalt oxide, Co3O4, is a potential candidate as a photovoltaic (PV) material, which also exhibits intriguing chemical and catalytic properties. Here, we present a comparative study of the electronic, magnetic, and chemical bonding properties of mixed valence Co3O4 (i.e., Co2+/3+) with the related single valence CoO (i.e., Co2+) and Co2O3 (i.e., Co3+) oxides using density functional theory (DFT). We have employed a range of theoretical methods, including pure DFT, DFT+U, and a range-separated exchange-correlation functional (HSE06). We compare the electronic structure and band gap of the oxide materials, with available photoemission spectroscopy and optical band gaps. Our calculations suggest that the bonding between Co3+ and O2– ions in Co2O3 and Co3O4 and Co2+ and O2– ions in CoO and Co3O4 are rather different. We find that Co2O3 and Co3O4 are weakly correlated materials, whereas CoO is a strongly correlated material. Furthermore, our computed one-electron energy level diagrams reveal that strong Co–O antibonding states are present at the top of the valence band for all the cobalt oxides, hinting at a defect tolerant capacity in these materials. These results, which give a detailed picture of the chemical bonding in related single and mixed valence cobalt oxides, may serve as a guide to enhance the PV or photoelectrochemical activity of Co3O4, by reducing its internal defect states or changing its electronic structure by doping or alloying with suitable elements.
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