1D nanofiber composites of perylene diimides for visible-light-driven hydrogen evolution from water†
A series of novel nanocomposite structures have been fabricated by in situ deposition of TiO2 layers and/or a co-catalyst (Pt) on one-dimensional (1D) self-assembled nanofibers of perylene diimide derivatives (PDIs). The PDI molecules were functionalized with dodecyl and/or phenylamino groups to compare the effect of nanofiber morphology and intramolecular charge transfer on the photocatalytic performance. Under visible-light irradiation (λ > 420 nm), hydrogen production for all composite systems has been detected through photocatalytic water splitting in aqueous solutions with sacrificial reagent methanol or triethanolamine, proving the applicability of organic nanofibers in the photocatalytic system. Compared to the well-defined nanofibril morphology obtained from dodecyl-substituted PDI molecules, donor–accepter type PDIs with electron-rich phenylamino moieties attached show much improved photocatalytic activity due to efficient inter- and intra-molecular charge transfer. This work provides insight into the role of molecular design and nanomorphology of organic semiconductor materials in the field of photocatalysis.