Project 2

Metal oxide nanostructures for electrochemical and photoelectrochemical water splitting

  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Bein, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Fakultät für Chemie und Pharmazie, Department Chemie
  • Prof. Dr. Dina Fattakhova-Rohlfing, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
  • Prof. Dr. Rossitza Pentcheva, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Fakultät für Physik
  • Prof. Dr. Christina Scheu, Alexander Müller
    Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH, Düsseldorf

Light-driven water splitting is one of the most important challenges of the century. In the case of water splitting at semiconductor particles or photo-electrodes, the principles are well understood, but progress towards efficient light-driven water splitting systems has been slow due to issues including chemical stability, recombination, and the high overpotential for the oxygen evolution reaction.

In our combined experimental and theoretical project we will address these efficiency limitations by designing 3-D hybrid nanostructured systems in which the spatial arrangement of the components allows independent optimization of light harvesting, electron-hole pair separation and catalysis. Self-assembly of the components (photoactive material, catalyst, host electron conductor) in the hierarchical systems will be controlled using powerful techniques developed previously in our laboratory.

Our strategy is based on three concepts.

First, we will fabricate systems using well-defined low-defect oxide nanoparticles for light harvesting and rapid extraction of photoelectrons by a transparent oxide host material.

Second, we will suppress surface recombination using appropriate surface treatments.

Third, we will integrate specific catalyst moieties into the hybrid structure to catalyze the 4-hole oxygen evolution reaction while avoiding recombination.