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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Current address: School of Chemistry, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK. John.Fielden@uea.ac.uk

Acknowledgments: We thank Dr Jie Song for help with synthesis of P2, Dr Kenneth Hardcastle for assisting with X-ray diffraction, and Dr Gregory G. Wildgoose for access to a bipotentiostat.

Mass spectra for [Et42](PF6)2 and [(Et4dpbpy)2Ru(5-crown-phen)](PF6)2 were obtained by the UK EPSRC National Mass Spectrometry facility in Swansea.


Research Funding:

Our work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Solar Photochemistry Program (DE-FG02-07ER-15906) to C.L.H., T.L. and D.G.M.; the EU through a Marie Curie IOF to J.F. (POMHYDCAT, contract no. 254339), and by the University of East Anglia. X. X. thanks the China Scholarship Council and NSFC (#21376020) for financial support.

Water splitting with polyoxometalate-treated photoanodes: Enhancing performance through sensitizer design


Journal Title:

Chemical Science


Volume 6, Number 10


, Pages 5531-5543

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Visible light driven water oxidation has been demonstrated at near-neutral pH using photoanodes based on nanoporous films of TiO2, polyoxometalate (POM) water oxidation catalyst [{Ru4O4(OH)2(H2O)4}(γ-SiW10O36)2]10-(1), and both known photosensitizer [Ru(bpy)2(H4dpbpy)]2+(P2) and the novel crown ether functionalized dye [Ru(5-crownphen)2(H2dpbpy)](H22). Both triads, containing catalyst 1, and catalyst-free dyads, produce O2with high faradaic efficiencies (80 to 94%), but presence of catalyst enhances quantum yield by up to 190% (maximum 0.39%). New sensitizer H22 absorbs light more strongly than P2, and increases O2quantum yields by up to 270%. TiO2-2 based photoelectrodes are also more stable to desorption of active species than TiO2-P2: losses of catalyst 1 are halved when pH > TiO2point-of-zero charge (pzc), and losses of sensitizer reduced below the pzc (no catalyst is lost when pH < pzc). For the triads, quantum yields of O2are higher at pH 5.8 than at pH 7.2, opposing the trend observed for 1 under homogeneous conditions. This is ascribed to lower stability of the dye oxidized states at higher pH, and less efficient electron transfer to TiO2, and is also consistent with the 4th1-to-dye electron transfer limiting performance rather than catalyst TOFmax. Transient absorption reveals that TiO2-2-1 has similar 1stelectron transfer dynamics to TiO2-P2-1, with rapid (ps timescale) formation of long-lived TiO2(e-)-2-1(h+) charge separated states, and demonstrates that metallation of the crown ether groups (Na+/Mg2+) has little or no effect on electron transfer from 1 to 2. The most widely relevant findings of this study are therefore: (i) increased dye extinction coefficients and binding stability significantly improve performance in dye-sensitized water splitting systems; (ii) binding of POMs to electrode surfaces can be stabilized through use of recognition groups; (iii) the optimal homogeneous and TiO2-bound operating pHs of a catalyst may not be the same; and (iv) dye-sensitized TiO2can oxidize water without a catalyst.

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© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2015

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/).

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