Nature communications

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

PMID 26138619


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.