MXene: a promising photocatalyst for water splitting†
Identifying suitable photocatalysts for photocatalytic water splitting to produce hydrogen fuel via sunlight is an arduous task by the traditional trial-and-error method. Thanks to the progress of density functional theory, one can nowadays accelerate the process of finding candidate photocatalysts. In this work, by ab initio calculations, we investigated 48 two-dimensional (2D) transition metal carbides also referred to as MXenes to understand their photocatalytic properties. Our results highlight 2D Zr2CO2 and Hf2CO2 as the candidate single photocatalysts for possible high efficiency photocatalytic water splitting. A significant property of 2D Zr2CO2 and Hf2CO2 is that they exhibit unexpectedly high and directionally anisotropic carrier mobility, which may effectively facilitate the migration and separation of photogenerated electron–hole pairs. Meanwhile, these two MXenes also exhibit very good optical absorption performance in the wavelength ranging approximately from 300 to 500 nm. The stability of 2D Zr2CO2 and Hf2CO2 in liquid water is expected to be good based on ab initio molecular dynamics simulations. Finally, the adsorption and decomposition of water molecules on the 2D Zr2CO2 surface and the subsequent formation process of hydrogen were studied, which contributes to the unravelling of the micro-mechanism of photocatalytic hydrogen production on MXenes. Our findings will open a new way to facilitate the discovery and application of MXenes for photocatalytic water splitting.
- This article is part of the themed collection: JMC A Editor’s choice collection: Recent advances in solar fuels and photocatalysis research