Boosting the photocatalytic activity of mesoporous SrTiO3 for nitrogen fixation through multiple defects and strain engineering†
Despite considerable progress in the field of sustainable ammonia synthesis technologies, the sluggish kinetics of nitrogen reduction has restricted its applicability. The development of highly efficient photocatalysts for solar-driven nitrogen fixation remains a great challenge. In this work, we demonstrate a general synthesis strategy of using mesoporous SrTiO3 nanoparticle catalysts for nitrogen reduction through multiple defects and strain engineering. Experimental and theoretical studies show that certain number of surface defects such as oxygen vacancies were generated through a controlled hydrogenation process and the lattice strain was introduced through liquid nitrogen quenching, producing synergism in boosting the photocatalytic activity of mesoporous SrTiO3 nanoparticles for nitrogen fixation. The ammonia yield of 109.15 μmol g−1 h−1 has been achieved, which is 4.3 times the benchmark for SrTiO3 nanoparticles. This synthesis approach is not inherently limited to material characteristics and can be easily scaled up, which may open up a general route towards high-performance catalysts for commercial applications.