FexNi9-xS8 (x = 3-6) as potential photocatalysts for solar-driven hydrogen production?

Tetzlaff, D. and Simon, C. and Achilleos, D.S. and Smialkowski, M. and Junge Puring, K. and Bloesser, A. and Piontek, S. and Kasap, H. and Siegmund, D. and Reisner, E. and Marschall, R. and Apfel, U.-P.

Volume: 215 Pages: 216-226
DOI: 10.1039/c8fd00173a
Published: 2019

The efficient reduction of protons by non-noble metals under mild conditions is a challenge for our modern society. Nature utilises hydrogenases, enzymatic machineries that comprise iron- and nickel- containing active sites, to perform the conversion of protons to hydrogen. We herein report a straightforward synthetic pathway towards well-defined particles of the bio-inspired material FexNi9-xS8, a structural and functional analogue of hydrogenase metal sulfur clusters. Moreover, the potential of pentlandites to serve as photocatalysts for solar-driven H2-production is assessed for the first time. The FexNi9-xS8 materials are visible light responsive (band gaps between 2.02 and 2.49 eV, depending on the pentlandite's Fe:Ni content) and display a conduction band energy close to the thermodynamic potential for proton reduction. Despite the limited driving force, a modest activity for photocatalytic H2 has been observed. Our observations show the potential for the future development of pentlandites as photocatalysts. This work provides a basis to explore powerful synergies between biomimetic chemistry and material design to unlock novel applications in solar energy conversion. © 2019 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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