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Role of Surface States in Photocatalysis: Study of Chlorine-Passivated CdSe Nanocrystals for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Generation

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2016, 00:00 by Whi Dong Kim, Ji-Hee Kim, Sooho Lee, Seokwon Lee, Ju Young Woo, Kangha Lee, Weon-Sik Chae, Sohee Jeong, Wan Ki Bae, John A. McGuire, Jun Hyuk Moon, Mun Seok Jeong, Doh C. Lee
We examine the effects of chlorine-passivation of Cd surface atoms on photocatalytic H2O reduction by CdSe NCs. Transient absorption spectroscopy reveals that Cl passivation removes electron trap states in CdSe NCs, which is also reflected in an increase of photoluminescence quantum yield, e.g., from 9 to 22% after the Cl treatment. Size-tunable energy states in CdSe NCs enable the systematic investigation of surface defects and their effect on the photocatalytic hydrogen generation rate. It turns out that, depending on band-edge energy levels, the surface trap states may enhance or inhibit photocatalysis. Cl-treated CdSe NCs larger than 2.7 nm show a higher hydrogen evolution rate than untreated CdSe NCs of the same size as Cl treatment removes trap states with energy below the H2O reduction potential. In contrast, the same Cl treatment does not increase the photocatalytic rate of CdSe NCs smaller than 2.7 nm because both the conduction band edge and trap states are above the water reduction potential. The size-dependence of the effect of Cl treatment suggests that electron trap states in CdSe may promote photocatalytic activity by enhancing charge separation.