Here, we report direct band gap transition for Gallium Phosphide (GaP) when alloyed with just 1–2 at% antimony (Sb) utilizing both density functional theory based computations and experiments. First principles density functional theory calculations of GaSbxP1−x alloys in a 216 atom supercell configuration indicate that an indirect to direct band gap transition occurs at x = 0.0092 or higher Sb incorporation into GaSbxP1−x. Furthermore, these calculations indicate band edge straddling of the hydrogen evolution and oxygen evolution reactions for compositions ranging from x = 0.0092 Sb up to at least x = 0.065 Sb making it a candidate for use in a Schottky type photoelectrochemical water splitting device. GaSbxP1−x nanowires were synthesized by reactive transport utilizing a microwave plasma discharge with average compositions ranging from x = 0.06 to x = 0.12 Sb and direct band gaps between 2.21 eV and 1.33 eV. Photoelectrochemical experiments show that the material is photoactive with p-type conductivity. This study brings attention to a relatively uninvestigated, tunable band gap semiconductor system with tremendous potential in many fields.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 6, article no. 20822, p. 1-9.

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The authors would like to thank and acknowledge the NSF SOLAR grant (DMS 1125909) for providing financial support and the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research for experimental facilities.

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Supplementary Information: Supplemental Figure 1-3