Unraveling the impact of the Pd nanoparticle@BiVO4/S-CN heterostructure on the photo-physical & opto-electronic properties for enhanced catalytic activity in water splitting and one-pot three-step tandem reaction†
Herein, a Pd nanoparticle-embedded SBVCN-37 heterostructure photocatalyst was synthesized and employed in the water-splitting reaction and for the synthesis of imines via a one-pot tandem reaction involving the photocatalytic reduction of nitrobenzene and oxidation of benzyl alcohol, followed by their condensation reaction. The embedded Pd nanoparticles (mean diameter ∼ 5–7 nm) act as an electron mediator and enhance the catalytic activity of SBVCN-37 during the oxidation and reduction reactions. The experimental results confirm that the light-induced holes owing to the favourable redox potential of the catalyst oxidize N2H4 to N2 and liberate H+ ions, which subsequently react with photogenerated electrons to facilitate the reduction of nitrobenzene. The obtained quantum yields for benzyl alcohol oxidation and nitrobenzene reduction were calculated to be 2.08% and 6.53% at λ = 420 nm light illumination, respectively. Furthermore, the obtained apparent quantum yields for the OER and HER were calculated to be 10.22% and 12.72% at 420 nm, respectively, indicating the excellent potential of the investigated photocatalyst for solar fuel production. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) and time-resolved and steady-state photoluminescence measurements reveal that the optimum amount of Pd nanoparticles over SBVCN-37 is the crucial factor for achieving the highest photocurrent response, lowest charge transfer resistance, and efficient carrier mobility, leading to prominent catalytic activity. Furthermore, the Mott–Schottky (M–S) analysis confirmed that the deposition of Pd nanoparticles effectively reduced the over-potential and fine-tuned the band edge potential required for the HER and OER reactions, respectively.