Plasmonic nanoparticle-film-assisted photoelectrochemical catalysis across the entire visible-NIR region†
Low solar light absorption and high electron–hole pair recombination are still the main challenges for solar energy conversion. Here, we design a plasmonic nanoparticle (NP)-film with a unique structure combining the advantages of a Au NP and film, which exhibits strong broadband absorption from the visible to near-infrared (NIR) wavelength range. In addition, the high density of sub-1 nm inter-particle gaps in the Au NP-film supports electromagnetic field enhancement of several orders of magnitude that greatly promotes the generation and separation of electron–hole pairs. Accordingly, the plasmonic NP-film-assisted photocatalyst (TiO2/90Au/TiO2) leads to an 88-fold increase in the photocurrent density at 0.75 V vs. RHE in 25% methanol solution under visible-NIR light irradiation (λ > 420 nm) compared to a TiO2 film, which is higher than those of the ever reported Au/TiO2 photocatalysts in the entire visible-NIR range. Our finding indicates a promising way to explore full solar spectrum photocatalysts, which can be easily extended to other energy conversion applications.