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Synthesis

A better hydrogen-producing catalyst

March 20, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 12

Bubblicious
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Credit: © Nature
This video shows overall water splitting on the Rh-Cr mixed oxide-loaded catalyst at atmospheric pressure. Hydrogen generated is released as bubbles.
8412catalyst.jpg
Credit: © Nature
This video shows overall water splitting on the Rh-Cr mixed oxide-loaded catalyst at atmospheric pressure. Hydrogen generated is released as bubbles.

With an eye toward producing large quantities of hydrogen, scientists have created a new photocatalyst that splits water 10 times more efficiently than previously reported similar photocatalysts. When exposed to visible light, the catalyst-a solid solution of gallium nitride and zinc oxide impregnated with nanoparticles of a mixed oxide of rhodium and chromium-splits water, producing hydrogen gas with a quantum efficiency of 2.5%, according to Kazunari Domen at the University of Tokyo and colleagues (Nature 2006, 440, 295). The mixed oxide appears to be key; rhodium or chromium oxide alone does not improve the catalyst's activity. The authors report the reaction's efficiency increases with short-wavelength light. The catalyst performed repeated runs for 35 hours without degrading. The authors also say the catalyst could be improved to work well at long wavelengths of light.

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