Tungsten carbide nanoparticles as efficient cocatalysts for photocatalytic overall water splitting

Angel T. Garcia Esparza, Dong Kyu Cha, Yiwei Ou, Jun Kubota, Kazunari Domen, Kazuhiro Takanabe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Tungsten carbide exhibits platinum-like behavior, which makes it an interesting potential substitute for noble metals in catalytic applications. Tungsten carbide nanocrystals (≈5 nm) are directly synthesized through the reaction of tungsten precursors with mesoporous graphitic C3N 4 (mpg-C3N4) as the reactive template in a flow of inert gas at high temperatures. Systematic experiments that vary the precursor compositions and temperatures used in the synthesis selectively generate different compositions and structures for the final nanocarbide (W 2C or WC) products. Electrochemical measurements demonstrate that the WC phase with a high surface area exhibits both high activity and stability in hydrogen evolution over a wide pH range. The WC sample also shows excellent hydrogen oxidation activity, whereas its activity in oxygen reduction is poor. These tungsten carbides are successful cocatalysts for overall water splitting and give H2 and O2 in a stoichiometric ratio from H 2O decomposition when supported on a Na-doped SrTiO3 photocatalyst. Herein, we present tungsten carbide (on a small scale) as a promising and durable catalyst substitute for platinum and other scarce noble-metal catalysts in catalytic reaction systems used for renewable energy generation. Platinum replacement: The phase-controlled synthesis of tungsten carbide nanoparticles from the nanoconfinement of a mesoporous graphite C 3N4 (mpg-C3N4) reactive template is shown. The nanomaterials catalyze hydrogen evolution/oxidation reactions, but are inactive in the oxygen reduction reaction. Tungsten carbide is an effective cocatalyst for photocatalytic overall water splitting (see picture). Copyright © 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-181
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 17 2012

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • General Chemical Engineering


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