Sol-Gel Biotemplating Route with Cellulose Nanocrystals to Design Photocatalyst Boosting the Hydrogen Generation

Light harvesting capability and charge carriers lifetime play critical roles in determining the photoefficency of photocatalyst. Herein, a one-pot method is proposed to design mesostructured TiO2 materials by taking advantage of the ability of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) to self-assemble into chiral nematic structures during solvent evaporation. After the xerogel formation, the as-obtained CNC/TiO2 hybrid films exhibit a chiral nematic structure and tunable Bragg peak reflection, generating lamellar TiO2 mesostructure after the biotemplate removal by calcination. More prominently, this straightforward method can be extended to couple TiO2 with other metal oxides, improving the light-harvesting and charge carriers separation of these photocatalysts, in particular for boosting hydrogen generation. This foolproof approach opens new doors for the development of nanostructured materials for solar energy conversion and catalysis.