Photoelectrocatalytic H2 evolution in water with molecular catalysts immobilised on p-Si via a stabilising mesoporous TiO2 interlayer†
The development of photoelectrodes capable of light-driven hydrogen evolution from water is an important approach for the storage of solar energy in the form of a chemical energy carrier. However, molecular catalyst-based photocathodes remain scarcely reported and typically suffer from low efficiencies and/or stabilities due to inadequate strategies for interfacing the molecular component with the light-harvesting material. In this study, we report the straightforward preparation of a p-silicon|mesoporous titania|molecular catalyst photocathode assembly that is active towards proton reduction in aqueous media with an onset potential of +0.4 V vs. RHE. The mesoporous TiO2 scaffold acts as an electron shuttle between the silicon and the catalyst, while also stabilising the silicon from passivation and enabling a high loading of molecular catalysts (>30 nmol (geometrical cm)−2). When a Ni bis(diphosphine)-based catalyst is anchored on the surface of the electrode, a high turnover number of ∼1 × 103 was obtained from photoelectrolysis under UV-filtered simulated solar irradiation at 1 Sun after 24 h at pH 4.5. Notwithstanding its aptitude for molecular catalyst immobilisation, the p-Si|TiO2 photoelectrode showed great versatility towards different catalysts and pH conditions, with photoelectrocatalytic H2 generation also being achieved with platinum and a hydrogenase as catalyst, highlighting the flexible platform it represents for many potential reductive catalysis transformations.
- This article is part of the themed collection: In celebration of Kazunari Domen’s 65th birthday, 2018