East China Institute of Technology prepares a new type of solar water photocatalyst

Faculty of Materials Science and Technology of East China University of Science and Technology, Yang Huai-Gui’s research group has made important progress in the field of solar photolysis of water, and successfully prepared a new type of solar water photocatalyst. The relevant research results have been published in the magazine "German Applied Chemistry".

Photo-dissolving water technology can convert solar energy into chemical energy and is considered as one of the ideal ways to solve global energy and environmental problems. The light absorption range of the photolysis water material is an important influence factor of the solar energy conversion efficiency, however, the light absorption range of a single semiconductor photo water solution material has been reported to be around 600 nm. Further widening the light absorption range of photolysis water materials is a major challenge in this research field.

In this research work, researchers based on the characteristics of metallic photolysable water materials relying on intra-band transitions to generate electron-hole pairs, the reaction intermediate tungstic acid was synthesized using ammonium tungstate and hydrochloric acid solution under the environment of ammonia gas. A tungsten-nitride photocatalyst with a wavelength of 765 nanometers was decomposed by solid-state sintering. And through the tests of conductivity and electrochemical impedance, it is proved that the synthesized tungsten nitride is metallic. At the same time, the metallization of tungsten nitride material was verified by density functional theory, and it was calculated that the water decomposition process of the material was an exothermic reaction. It was confirmed from thermodynamics that it was easy to complete the photolysis water process.

The researcher of this work indicated that this material not only achieved the full decomposing water of metallic photocatalytic materials for the first time, but also was the single water-resolving water material with the longest wavelength of decomposed pure water. This research result provides important ideas for broadening the light absorption range of photolysis water materials, or makes it possible to use the full spectrum of solar energy for photolysis of water to make hydrogen.

It is reported that "Journal of Physical Chemistry" made a bright comment on this work. The first author of the research work was Wang Yulei, a doctoral student, and Professor Yang Huagui, the instructor; the theoretical calculations were completed by Professor Gong Xueqing from the School of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering and the doctoral student Nie Ting. The work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China, and the Central University Fundamental Research Funds.

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