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Hot electron-induced reduction of small molecules on photorecycling metal surfaces.

Nature communications (2015-07-04)
Wei Xie, Sebastian Schlücker
ABSTRACT

Noble metals are important photocatalysts due to their ability to convert light into chemical energy. Hot electrons, generated via the non-radiative decay of localized surface plasmons, can be transferred to reactants on the metal surface. Unfortunately, the number of hot electrons per molecule is limited due to charge-carrier recombination. In addition to the reduction half-reaction with hot electrons, also the corresponding oxidation counter-half-reaction must take place since otherwise the overall redox reaction cannot proceed. Here we report on the conceptual importance of promoting the oxidation counter-half-reaction in plasmon-mediated catalysis by photorecycling in order to overcome this general limitation. A six-electron photocatalytic reaction occurs even in the absence of conventional chemical reducing agents due to the photoinduced recycling of Ag atoms from hot holes in the oxidation half-reaction. This concept of multi-electron, counter-half-reaction-promoted photocatalysis provides exciting new opportunities for driving efficient light-to-energy conversion processes.

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