Effects of Nanoscale Interfacial Design on Photocatalytic Hydrogen Generation Activity at Plasmonic Au–TiO2 and Au–TiO2/Pt Aerogels

Tuesday, 3 October 2017: 08:20
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
J. Pietron, P. A. DeSario, T. Brintlinger, O. A. Baturina, R. Stroud, and D. R. Rolison (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
We demonstrate that composite catalytic aerogels represent a superior materials design motif for the creation of solar fuels photocatalysts. We couple surface plasmon resonant (SPR) guests to the inherent compositional and interfacial design flexibility of catalytic aerogels to photogenerate molecular hydrogen (H2). We investigate the effects of synthetically modifying the TiO2 aerogel network and the nanoparticulate Au||TiO2 interfaces in plasmonic Au–TiO2 aerogels on H2 evolution under both broadband (i.e., UV + visible light) and visible excitation. We also introduce non-plasmonic Pt co-catalyst nanoparticles into our composite aerogels, creating Au–TiO2/Pt aerogels that perform visible light SPR-driven photocatalytic reduction of water to generate H2.

 The fuels production achieved with this multicomponent photocatalytic nanoreactor demonstrates that the nanostructured high-surface-area network in the aerogel can spatially and effectively separate charge while electrochemically connecting plasmonic nanoparticle sensitizers and metal nanoparticle. In doing so, we prove several crucial concepts: (1) integration of a plasmonic sensitizer with a separate water reduction co-catalyst within the ultraporous aerogel nanoarchitecture; (2) wiring the electron–hole pairs generated under visible light at the plasmonic Au||TiO2 interface to the co-catalyst via the nanoscale TiO2 network; and (3) combining both the photocatalytic oxidation and reduction reactions critical to solar fuels photocatalysis into one composite material at length scales compatible with the reaction kinetics.

This work is supported by the Office of Naval Research.