Evidence of Plasmonic Induced Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production on Pd/TiO2 Upon Deposition on Thin Films of Gold

M. A. Khan, Lutfan Sinatra, M. Oufi, Osman Bakr, H. Idriss

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H2-production from renewables using sunlight is probably the holy grail of modern science and technology. Among the many approaches for increasing reaction rates, by increasing light absorption, plasmonic materials are often invoked. Yet, most plasmonic metals on semiconductors are also good for Schottky barrier formation. In this work, we are presenting evidences of de-coupling the plasmonic from Schottky effects on photoreaction. To conduct this we have systematically changed the under-layer gold film thickness and associated particle size. On top of the thin film layer, we have deposited the exact amount of a prototypical Schottky-based photo-catalyst (Pd/TiO2). We found up to 4 times increase in the H2-production rate at a critical Au film thickness (8 nm-thick). Below this thickness, the plasmonic response is not too strong while above it, the PR decays in favor of the Drude absorption mode. The reaction requires the presence of both UV (to excite the semiconductor) and visible light (to excite Au particles) in order to obtain high hydrogen production, 800 µmol/gCatal.min (probably the highest direct hydrogen (not current) production rate reported on a performing catalyst). The enhancement origin is quantitatively traced to its computed electric field strength (EFS). Adding a dielectric (SiO2) in between the Au thin layer and the catalyst exponentially decreased the reaction rate and EFS, with increasing its thickness. This work indicates the possibility of making an active and stable photo-catalyst from fundamental concepts yet further progress on the structural (technological) front is needed to make a practical catalyst.Graphical abstract
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-820
Number of pages10
JournalCatalysis Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 28 2017

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