Polyaniline films photoelectrochemically reduce CO2 to alcohols†
In this communication, we demonstrate that polyaniline, the very first example of an organic semiconductor, is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to alcohol fuels. CO2 is a greenhouse gas; thus using solar energy to convert CO2 to transportation fuels (such as methanol or ethanol) is a value-added approach to simultaneous generation of alternative fuels and environmental remediation of carbon emissions. Insights into its unique behavior obtained from photoelectrochemical measurements and adsorption studies, together with spectroscopic data, are presented. Through a comparative study involving various conducting polymers, a set of criteria is developed for an organic semiconductor to function as a photocathode for generation of solar fuels from CO2.