Nanocrystals Make Hydrogen For Days | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 46 | p. 29 | Concentrates
Issue Date: November 12, 2012

Nanocrystals Make Hydrogen For Days

Nickel catalyst joins forces with cadmium selenide semiconductor particles and light to convert protons to hydrogen
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Environmental SCENE, Nano SCENE, Materials SCENE
Keywords: artificial photosynthesis, photocatalyst, water splitting, hydrogen fuel, nanocrystals
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This photocatalytic system generates H2 from protons when light triggers electron transfer from a CdSe nanocrystal to a nickel catalyst complex.
This image shows how H2 is generated from light and a CdSe nanocrystal.
 
This photocatalytic system generates H2 from protons when light triggers electron transfer from a CdSe nanocrystal to a nickel catalyst complex.

Researchers at the University of Rochester have developed a nanocrystal-based system that continuously generates hydrogen gas from light and protons for at least two weeks (Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1227775). The catalytic scheme joins a growing list of strategies that strive to tear apart water molecules with sunlight to produce H2, which can be used in fuel cells to produce electricity. In addition to using simple components such as Earth-abundant elements and visible light to make fuel, the researchers say their approach has the added benefit of being, to their knowledge, the longest-lasting nanoparticle-based photocatalytic system yet. To generate H2, the researchers—including graduate students Zhiji Han and Fen Qiu and chemistry professors Richard Eisenberg, Patrick L. Holland, and Todd D. Krauss—irradiate an aqueous solution of nickel(II) nitrate, ascorbic acid, and di­hydrolipoic acid-coated CdSe nanocrystals with 520-nm light. The team thinks the light triggers electron transfer from the nanocrystals to a catalyst complex formed between nickel and dihydrolipoic acid. The catalyst complex then reduces protons supplied by ascorbic acid to form H2. Aside from determining the structure of the nickel catalyst, the next step for the team, Krauss says, will be to improve the water-based system’s quantum yield, which is currently 36%.

 
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