ACS Appl Energy Mater. 2022 Dec 26;5(12):14687-14700. doi: 10.1021/acsaem.2c01530. Epub 2022 Nov 28.
Platinum@hexaniobate nanopeapods (Pt@HNB NPPs) are a nanocomposite photocatalyst that was selectively engineered to increase the efficiency of hydrogen production from visible light photolysis. Pt@HNB NPPs consist of linear arrays of high surface area Pt nanocubes encapsulated within scrolled sheets of the semiconductor H x K4-x Nb6O17 and were synthesized in high yield via a facile one-pot microwave heating method that is fast, reproducible, and more easily scalable than multi-step approaches required by many other state-of-the-art catalysts. The Pt@HNB NPPs’ unique 3D architecture enables physical separation of the Pt catalysts from competing surface reactions, promoting electron efficient delivery to the isolated reduction environment along directed charge transport pathways that kinetically prohibit recombination reactions. Pt@HNB NPPs’ catalytic activity was assessed in direct comparison to representative state-of-the-art Pt/semiconductor nanocomposites (extPt-HNB NScs) and unsupported Pt nanocubes. Photolysis under similar conditions exhibited superior H2 production by the Pt@HNB NPPs, which exceeded other catalyst H2 yields (μmol) by a factor of 10. Turnover number and apparent quantum yield values showed similar dramatic increases over the other catalysts. Overall, the results clearly demonstrate that Pt@HNB NPPs represent a unique, intricate nanoarchitecture among state-of-the-art heterogeneous catalysts, offering obvious benefits as a new architectural pathway toward efficient, versatile, and scalable hydrogen energy production. Potential factors behind the Pt@HNB NPPs’ superior performance are discussed below, as are the impacts of systematic variation of photolysis parameters and the use of a non-aqueous reductive quenching photosystem.