Solar Fuel Production By Plasmonic Photocatalysts

Tuesday, 7 October 2014
Expo Center, 1st Floor, Center and Right Foyers (Moon Palace Resort)
J. Bright, J. Li (Dept. Mech. and Aero. Engineering, West Virginia University), S. K. Cushing (Dept. of Physics, West Virginia University), and N. Wu (West Virginia University)
As the world’s energy demand increases and the finite supply of fossil fuels is used, clean, renewable energy alternatives are needed to fill the void of fossil fuels for supplying the world’s energy. One potential alternative to fossil fuels is chemical fuels produced through photocatalysis. However, the photocatalyst materials currently used and studied have problems such as poor charge carrier mobility and excitation lifetimes, large bandgaps that limit light absorption to the UV part of the spectrum, poor reaction kinetics at the interface photocatalyst surface and electrolyte. Coupling photocatalysts to nanoparticles and nanostructures made of plasmonic metals such as Au and Ag has been shown to enhance the overall photocatalytic performance of these materials. This enhancement is due to a combination of photonic effects due to enhanced light absorption in the visible and infrared parts of the spectrum and plasmonic effects such as direct electron transfer or a resonant energy transfer from plasmonic metal to the semiconductor photocatalyst. This poster presents our recent research on photocatalyst/plasmonic metal heterostructures and the mechanisms responsible for this enhancement.