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Reactivity of Hydrogen-Related Electron Centers in Powders, Layers, and Electrodes Consisting of Anatase TiO2 Nanocrystal Aggregates

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journal contribution
posted on 22.06.2021, 15:33 by Juan Miguel Jiménez, Daniel Perdolt, Thomas Berger
Anatase TiO2 nanoparticle aggregates were used as model systems for studying at different water activities the reactivity of electron centers at semiconductor surfaces. The investigated surface conditions evolve from a solid/vacuum interface to a solid/bulk electrolyte interface. Hydrogen-related electron centers were generated either chemicallyupon sample exposure to atomic hydrogen at the semiconductor/gas interfaceor electrochemicallyupon bias-induced charge accumulation at the semiconductor/electrolyte interface. Based on their corresponding spectroscopic and electrochemical fingerprints, we investigated the reactivity of hydrogen-related electron centers as a function of the interfacial condition and at different levels of complexity, that is, (i) for dehydrated and (partially) dehydroxylated oxide surfaces, (ii) for oxide surfaces covered by a thin film of interfacial water, and (iii) for oxide surfaces in contact with a 0.1 M HClO4 aqueous solution. Visible (Vis) and infrared (IR) spectroscopy evidence a chemical equilibrium between hydrogen atoms in the gas phase andfollowing their dissociationelectron/proton centers in the oxide. The excess electrons are either localized forming (Vis-active) Ti3+ centers or delocalized as (IR-active) free conduction band electrons. The addition of molecular oxygen to chemically reduced anatase TiO2 nanoparticle aggregates leads to a quantitative quenching of Ti3+ centers, while a fraction of ∼10% of hydrogen-derived conduction band electrons remains in the oxide pointing to a persistent hydrogen doping of the semiconductor. Neither trapped electrons (i.e., Ti3+ centers) nor conduction band electrons react with water or its adsorption products at the oxide surface. However, the presence of an interfacial water layer does not impede the electron transfer to molecular oxygen. At the semiconductor/electrolyte interface, inactivity of trapped electrons with regard to water reduction and electron transfer to oxygen were evidenced by cyclic voltammetry.