Visible-light-induced water splitting based on two-step photoexcitation between dye-sensitized layered niobate and tungsten oxide photocatalysts in the presence of a triiodide/iodide shuttle redox mediator

Ryu Abe, Kenichi Shinmei, Nagatoshi Koumura, Kohjiro Hara, Bunsho Ohtani

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Water splitting into H2 and O2 under visible light was achieved using simple organic dyes such as coumarin and carbazole as photosensitizers on an n-type semiconductor for H2 evolution, a tungsten(VI) oxide (WO3) photocatalyst for O2 evolution, and a triiodide/iodide (I3 -/I-) redox couple as a shuttle electron mediator between them. The results on electrochemical measurements revealed that the oxidized states of the dye molecules having an oligothiophene moiety (two or more thiophene rings) in their structures are relatively stable even in water and possess sufficiently long lifetimes to exhibit reversible oxidation-reduction cycles, while the carbazole system required more thiophene rings than the coumarin one to be substantially stabilized. The long lifetimes of the oxidized states enabled these dye molecules to be regenerated to the original states by accepting an electron from the I- electron donor even in an aqueous solution, achieving sustained H2 and I3 - production from an aqueous KI solution under visible light irradiation when they were combined with an appropriate n-type semiconductor, ion-exchangeable layered niobate H 4Nb6O17. The use of H4Nb 6O17 loaded with Pt cocatalyst inside the interlayer allowed the water reduction to proceed preferentially with a steady rate even in the presence of a considerable amount of I3 - in the solution, due to the inhibited access of I3 - to the reduction site, Pt particles inside, by the electrostatic repulsion between the I3 - anions and the negatively charged (Nb 6O17)4- layers. It was also revealed that the WO3 particles coloaded with Pt and IrO2 catalysts exhibited higher rates of O2 evolution than the WO3 particles loaded only with Pt in aqueous solutions containing a considerable amount of I-, which competitively consumes the holes and lowers the rate of O2 evolution on WO3 photocatalysts. The enhanced O2 evolution is certainly due to the improved selectivity of holes toward water oxidation on IrO2 cocatalyst, instead of undesirable oxidation of I-. Simultaneous evolution of H2 and O 2 under visible light was then achieved by combining the Pt/H 4Nb6O17 semiconductor sensitized with the dye molecules having an oligothiophene moiety, which can stably generate H 2 and I3 - from an aqueous KI solution, with the IrO2-Pt-loaded WO3 photocatalyst that can reduce the I3 - back to I- and oxidize water to O 2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16872-16884
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number45
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

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