Tunable organic photocatalysts for visible-light-driven hydrogen evolution

Sprick, Reiner Sebastian and Jiang, Jia-Xing and Bonillo, Baltasar and Ren, Shijie and Ratvijitvech, Thanchanok and Guiglion, Pierre and Zwijnenburg, Martijn A. and Adams, Dave J. and Cooper, Andrew I. (2015) Tunable organic photocatalysts for visible-light-driven hydrogen evolution. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 137 (9). pp. 3265-3270. ISSN 0002-7863 (https://doi.org/10.1021/ja511552k)

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Photocatalytic hydrogen production from water offers an abundant, clean fuel source, but it is challenging to produce photocatalysts that use the solar spectrum effectively. Many hydrogen-evolving photocatalysts are active in the ultraviolet range, but ultraviolet light accounts for only 3% of the energy available in the solar spectrum at ground level. Solid-state crystalline photocatalysts have light absorption profiles that are a discrete function of their crystalline phase and that are not always tunable. Here, we prepare a series of amorphous, microporous organic polymers with exquisite synthetic control over the optical gap in the range 1.94-2.95 eV. Specific monomer compositions give polymers that are robust and effective photocatalysts for the evolution of hydrogen from water in the presence of a sacrificial electron donor, without the apparent need for an added metal cocatalyst. Remarkably, unlike other organic systems, the best performing polymer is only photoactive under visible rather than ultraviolet irradiation.