Ligand-exchange assisted formation of Au/TiO2 Schottky contact for visible-light photocatalysis.

Research paper by Dawei D Ding, Kai K Liu, Shengnan S He, Chuanbo C Gao, Yadong Y Yin

Indexed on: 21 Oct '14Published on: 21 Oct '14Published in: Nano Letters


Plasmonic noble metal nanoparticles have emerged as a promising material in sensitizing wide-bandgap semiconductors for visible-light photocatalysis. Conventional methods in constructing such heterocatalysts suffer from either poor control over the size of the metal nanoparticles or inefficient charge transfer through the metal/semiconductor interface, which limit their photocatalytic activity. To solve this problem, in this work we construct Au/TiO2 photocatalysts by depositing presynthesized colloidal Au nanoparticles with well-controlled sizes to TiO2 nanocrystals and then removing capping ligands on the Au surface through a delicately designed ligand-exchange method, which leads to close Au/TiO2 Schottky contact after a mild annealing process. Benefiting from this unique synthesis strategy, the obtained photocatalysts show superior activity to conventionally prepared photocatalysts in dye decomposition and water-reduction hydrogen production under visible-light illumination. This study not only opens up new opportunities in designing photoactive materials with high stability and enhanced performance for solar energy conversion but also provides a potential solution for the well-recognized challenge in cleaning capping ligands from the surface of colloidal catalyst nanoparticles.