A hierarchical SnS@ZnIn2S4 marigold flower-like 2D nano-heterostructure as an efficient photocatalyst for sunlight-driven hydrogen generation†
Herein, we report the in situ single-step hydrothermal synthesis of hierarchical 2D SnS@ZnIn2S4 nano-heterostructures and the examination of their photocatalytic activity towards hydrogen generation from H2S and water under sunlight. The photoactive sulfides rationally integrate via strong electrostatic interactions between ZnIn2S4 and SnS with two-dimensional ultrathin subunits, i.e. nanopetals. The morphological study of nano-heterostructures revealed that the hierarchical marigold flower-like structure is self-assembled via the nanopetals of ZnIn2S4 with few layers of SnS nanopetals. Surprisingly, it also showed that the SnS nanopetals with a thickness of ∼25 nm couple in situ with the nanopetals of ZnIn2S4 with a thickness of ∼25 nm to form a marigold flower–like assembly with intimate contact. Considering the unique band gap (2.0–2.4 eV) of this SnS@ZnIn2S4, photocatalytic hydrogen generation from water and H2S was performed under sunlight. SnS@ZnIn2S4 exhibits enhanced hydrogen evolution, i.e. 650 μmol h−1 g−1 from water and 6429 μmol h−1 g−1 from H2S, which is much higher compared to that of pure ZnIn2S4 and SnS. More significantly, the enhancement in hydrogen generation is 1.6–2 times more for H2S splitting and 6 times more for water splitting. SnS@ZnIn2S4 forms type I band alignment, which accelerates charge separation during the surface reaction. Additionally, this has been provoked by the nanostructuring of the materials. Due to the nano-heterostructure with hierarchical morphology, the surface defects increased which ultimately suppresses the recombination of the electron–hole pair. The above-mentioned facts demonstrate a significant improvement in the interface electron transfer kinetics due to such a unique 2D nano-heterostructure semiconductor which is responsible for a higher photocatalytic activity.