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A highly efficient H2 evolution photocatalyst based on subnanometer Au-TiO2 was developed through surface organometallic chemistry. The catalysts can be prepared in a broad range of Au loading (0.3, 0.9, 2.4 wt %) by contacting [Au5(mesityl)5] with TiO2 dehydrated at 120 °C followed by a treatment under H2 in order to obtain selectively subnanometer Au(0) particles.
A highly efficient H2 evolution photocatalyst based on TiO2 supported subnanometer Au particles was developed on the basis of the reaction of a gold(I) molecular precursor [Au5Mes5] (Mes = 2,4,6-trimethylphenyl), with titanium dioxide partially dehydroxylated at 120 °C. IR, UV–vis, elemental analysis, XANES, and STEM-EDX show that the deposition of [Au5Mes5] onto TiO2 leads to the formation of both subnanometer Au particles and chemisorbed [Au5Mes5]. The remaining organic ligands are removed via a mild treatment under H2, yielding subnanometer gold(0) particles. A range of Au loadings (0.3, 0.9, 2.4 wt %) with similar particle sizes (<1 nm) on TiO2 are obtained and tested in methanol-assisted photocatalytic hydrogen production under UV light. These catalysts display significantly higher activity than a commercial reference Au-TiO2 catalyst. The presence of chemisorbed [Au5Mes5] in the as-synthesized catalyst further improved activity, albeit at the expense of stability. This work demonstrates a simple synthetic route to obtain subnanometer Au particles on TiO2 that display exceptional activity in photocatalysis.
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