Volume 176, 2014

Comparison of photoelectrochemical water oxidation activity of a synthetic photocatalyst system with photosystem II


This discussion describes a direct comparison of photoelectrochemical (PEC) water oxidation activity between a photosystem II (PSII)-functionalised photoanode and a synthetic nanocomposite photoanode. The semi-biological photoanode is composed of PSII from the thermophilic cyanobacterium Thermosynechococcus elongatus on a mesoporous indium tin oxide electrode (mesoITO|PSII). PSII embeds all of the required functionalities for light absorption, charge separation and water oxidation and ITO serves solely as the electron collector. The synthetic photoanode consists of a TiO2 and NiOx coated nanosheet-structured WO3 electrode (nanoWO3|TiO2|NiOx). The composite structure of the synthetic electrode allows mimicry of the functional key features in PSII: visible light is absorbed by WO3, TiO2 serves as a protection and charge separation layer and NiOx serves as the water oxidation electrocatalyst. MesoITO|PSII uses low energy red light, whereas nanoWO3|TiO2|NiOx requires high energy photons of blue-end visible and UV regions to oxidise water. The electrodes have a comparable onset potential at approximately 0.6 V vs. reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE). MesoITO|PSII reaches its saturation photocurrent at 0.84 V vs. RHE, whereas nanoWO3|TiO2|NiOx requires more than 1.34 V vs. RHE. This suggests that mesoITO|PSII suffers from fewer limitations from charge recombination and slow water oxidation catalysis than the synthetic electrode. MesoITO|PSII displays a higher ‘per active’ site activity, but is less photostable and displays a much lower photocurrent per geometrical surface area and incident photon to current conversion efficiency (IPCE) than nanoWO3|TiO2|NiOx.

Associated articles

Article information

Article type
04 Apr 2014
12 Jun 2014
First published
12 Jun 2014
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Faraday Discuss., 2014,176, 199-211

Author version available

Comparison of photoelectrochemical water oxidation activity of a synthetic photocatalyst system with photosystem II

Y. Lai, M. Kato, D. Mersch and E. Reisner, Faraday Discuss., 2014, 176, 199 DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00059E

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity