The DICP&DNL research team led by Prof. Can Li has studied the roles played by surface phase junctions in photocatalytic overall water splitting. They have found that the phase junction formed between a-Ga2O3 and b-Ga2O3 in a catalyst sample was up to seven times more catalytically active in photocatalytic splitting of water than the samples composed of either phase alone. Time-resolved spectra and electrochemical measurements revealed that the a-b phase junction could promote charge separation and transfer, which is one of the key factors in photocatalytic overall water splitting reaction. Their results were published in a paper titled “Photocatalytic overall water splitting promoted by an a-b phase junction on Ga2O3” on the recently appearing Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201207554) as a “Hot Paper” and “Back Cover”. Meanwhile, this accomplishment was reported in a voluminous article with the title of “A Twist On Water Splitting” in the journal of Chemical & Engineering News.
Hydrogen production via photocatalytic overall water splitting is one of the challenging reactions in the field of solar fuels. Most of the photocatalysts, due to their low charge separation and transfer abilities, either cannot drive this reaction or exhibit low activities. The phase junction strategy will open a new route for the development of efficient photocatalysts for overall water splitting.
This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.