Linker-Controlled Polymeric Photocatalyst for Highly Efficient Hydrogen Evolution from Water

Dr Natalia Martsinovich, and collaborators at UCL have published experimental and theoretical research into a new photocatalyst capable of catalysing the production of H2 from water. The paper in full can be read through the following link. A short summary written by Natalia Martsinovich is included below.

Renewable energy sources may offer a viable path to replace fossil fuels. In particular, artificial photosynthesis and photocatalysis take the inspiration from the Nature’s process of using solar energy to convert CO2 and water into biologically useful molecules. One of the key directions of photocatalysis research is making the solar-powered conversion of water into O2 and H2 more efficient, whereby H2 is generated as a “clean” fuel.

An efficient photocatalyst, ideally, should absorb as much as possible of the radiation the Sun emits at as many wave lengths as possible. However, this is a problem for most inorganic photocatalysts, which begin to absorb light only at the edge of the ultraviolet range. Therefore organic polymeric photocatalysts, such as polymeric (“graphitic”) carbon nitride, are considered highly promising, because their optical properties can be tuned by modifying the nature of the polymeric material.

The 2D structure of ONLHHOMO and LUMO levels in ONLH

In this work, Dr. Natalia Martsinovich together with Dr. Junwang Tang from UCL investigated a new oxygen-enriched carbon nitride photocatalyst, which is able to catalyse the production of H2 from water under visible and even near-IR range. A combination of computational modelling and experimental characterisation was used to explain the new material’s excellent photocatalytic properties. Our results demonstrate the promising role of oxygen-enrichment in modifying polymeric photocatalysts and highlight the crucial effect of the polymers’ atomic structure on their electronic properties and photocatalytic activity.