Strongly coupled CdS/graphene quantum dots nanohybrids for highly efficient photocatalytic hydrogen evolution: unraveling the essential roles of graphene quantum dots

Yonggang Lei, Cheng Yang, Jianhua Hou, Fang Wang, Shixiong Min, Xiaohua Ma, Zhiliang Jin, Jing Xu, Gongxuan Lu, Kuo-Wei Huang

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198 Scopus citations


It have been recognized that the coupling of graphene quantum dots (GQDs) with semiconductor photocatalysts endow the resulting nanocomposites with enhanced photocatalytic performances, however, the essential roles of GQDs have not been clearly revealed yet. Herein, we report that a high efficiency of the photocatalytic H2 evolution was achieved using strongly coupled nanohybrids of CdS with GQDs (CdS/GQDs) as visible-light-driven photocatalysts. CdS/GQDs nanohybrids were synthesized by a facile hydrothermal method in which the crystallization of CdS precursor and coupling of GQDs could be accomplished in one-step. GQDs are firmly decorated on the surface of CdS nanoparticles, forming “dot-on-particle” heterodimer structures. GQDs have no significant influence on the crystallite structure of CdS but render the nanohybrids with strong light absorption at the wavelength beyond the band edge of CdS. Under visible light irradiation (≥420nm), CdS/GQDs nanohybrids reach the highest H2 production rate of 95.4μmol·h−1, about 2.7 times higher than that of pure CdS nanoparticles, at GQDs content of 1.0wt %, and the apparent quantum efficiency (AQE) was determined to be 4.2% at 420nm. Incident light-wavelength dependent experiments reveal that the light absorption of CdS dominated the performance of nanohybrids, and the excess light absorption coming from GQDs hardly contributes to the observed higher activity. Photocurrent response, steady-state and time-resolved PL, and EIS measurements suggest that the high activity of CdS/GQDs is attributed predominantly to the graphene-like nature of GQDs, which can act as an efficient electron acceptor to induce an efficient charge separation. This work clearly reveals that GQDs mainly played a role of electron acceptor instead of a photosensitizer in enhancing the photocatalytic H2 evolution performances of CdS/GQDs nanohybrids, which offers a new insight to understand the essential roles of GQDs in semiconductor/GQDs nanohybrids for efficient solar energy conversion applications.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)59-69
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
StatePublished - May 23 2017

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work is supported by the National Science Foundation of China (21463001, 41663012), Graduate student innovation project (YCX1778), the Natural Science Foundation of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region (NZ15102), the Scientific Research Projects of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission (2066204), and the Cultivation Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (2014QZP04).


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