Innovative carbon nanotube photocatalytic materials for efficient solar energy conversion and hydrogen production

August 24, 2017, Okayama University
Innovative carbon nanotube photocatalytic materials for efficient solar energy conversion and hydrogen production
Figure 1: Absorption spectrum of s-SWCNTs (black line) overlaid with solar spectrum (yellow line). Credit: Okayama University

The unique properties of semiconducting single-walled carbon nanotubes (s-SWCNTs) offer significant advantages over organic molecules, semiconducting polymers, and solid-state semiconductors for wide ranging applications. In particular, s-SWCNT are potentially highly effective active absorption layers in thin-film solar cells because the optical absorption bands—that depend on the chiral indices, (n,m)—of s-SWCNTs exhibit excellent overlap with the useful solar spectrum range of the sun's radiation.

However, in other applications of carbon nanotubes, there have not been any reports on the use of s-SWCNTs as components of photocatalysts for into hydrogen (photocatalytic H2) although photocatalytic-based water splitting is expected to be a key technology for and sustainable production of hydrogen.

Now, Yutaka Takaguchi and colleagues at Okayama University, Yamaguchi University, and Tokyo University of Science report on the observation of photocatalytic H2 evolution from water triggered by photoexcitation of s-SWCNTs.

The researchers fabricated a structure consisting of a s-SWCNT/C60 coaxial heterojunction by a self-organization technique using fullerodendron to make s-SWCNT act as a photocatalyst. This heterojunction was used to induce the highly efficient H2 evolution reaction from water, where the (8, 3) SWCNT/fullerodendron coaxial photocatalyst shows H2-evolving activity (QY = 0.015) upon 680-nm illumination, which is E22 absorption of (8, 3) SWCNT.

Due to strong absorption coefficients and ease of modifying s-SWCNTs, the CNT-photocatalyst could be a powerful candidate as a material for solar energy conversion and H2 production without CO2 emission.

Innovative carbon nanotube photocatalytic materials for efficient solar energy conversion and hydrogen production
Figure 2: Illustration of SWCNT photocatalysts consisting of the s-SWCNT/C60 coaxial heterojunction. Credit: Okayama University

Explore further: Developing seeds for growing whole gardens of identical SWCNTs

More information: Noritake Murakami et al. SWCNT Photocatalyst for Hydrogen Production from Water upon Photoexcitation of (8, 3) SWCNT at 680-nm Light, Scientific Reports (2017). DOI: 10.1038/srep43445

Related Stories

Scientists grow ultrahigh-purity carbon nanotubes

October 25, 2013

( —Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) are being widely studied for their potential applications in many areas; for example, as electrode materials for energy storage, as transparent conductive films, and as ...

Ferrite boosting photocatalytic hydrogen evolution

March 10, 2016

Photocatalytic hydrogen generation via water splitting has become a hot spot in the field of energy and materials. The goal of this technique is to construct cheap and efficient photocatalytic water splitting systems at an ...

Recommended for you

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

OSIRIS-REx reveals asteroid Bennu has big surprises

March 19, 2019

A NASA spacecraft that will return a sample of a near-Earth asteroid named Bennu to Earth in 2023 made the first-ever close-up observations of particle plumes erupting from an asteroid's surface. Bennu also revealed itself ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.