Covalent functionalization of CdSe quantum dot films with molecular [FeFe] hydrogenase mimics for light-driven hydrogen evolution



CdSe quantum dots combined with [FeFe] hydrogenase mimics as molecular catalytic reaction centers based on earth abundant elements have demonstrated promising activity for photocatalytic hydrogen generation. Direct linking of the [FeFe] hydrogenase mimics to the quantum dots surface is expected to enhance the activity of the system by establishing close contact between the [FeFe] hydrogenase mimics and the light harvesting quantum dots supporting the transfer and accumulation of several electrons which are needed to drive hydrogen evolution. To circumvent the problem of limited colloidal stability upon covalent functionalization of the quantum dots under optimal pH conditions for hydrogen evolution, in this work, we report on the functionalization of quantum dots immobilized in a thin film architecture on a substrate with [FeFe] hydrogenase mimics by covalent linking via carboxylate groups as anchoring functionality to bind to the QD surface. The functionalization was monitored via UV/Vis absorption, photoluminescence, infrared (ATR-FTIR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and quantified via micro X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (μXRF). The activity of the molecularly functionalized thin film was demonstrated and in dependence on the linker length TONs in the range of 360-580 (short linker) and 130-160 (long linker) were achieved. This work presents a proof of concept study showing the potential of thin film architectures of immobilized quantum dots as platform for light-driven hydrogen evolution and beyond.


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Supplementary material

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Supporting Information
Experimental details on synthesis and characterization methods, TEM, AFM, additional absorption, IR, XPS spectra