Charge Concentration Limits The Hydrogen Evolution Rate in Organic Nanoparticle Photocatalysts

11 November 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Colloidal organic nanoparticles have proven to be a promising class of photocatalyst for performing the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER) due to their dispersibility in aqueous environments, their strong absorption within the visible region, and the tunabilty of their component materials’ redox potentials. Currently, there is little understanding of how charge generation and accumulation in organic semiconductors change when these materials are formed into nanoparticles that share a high interfacial area with water, nor is it known what mechanism limits the hydrogen evolution efficiency in recent reports on organic nanoparticle photocatalysts. Herein, we use Time-Resolved Microwave Conductivity to study aqueous-soluble organic nanoparticles and bulk thin films composed of various blend ratios of the non-fullerene acceptor EH-IDTBR and conjugated polymer PTB7-Th and examine the relationship between composition, interfacial surface area, charge carrier dynamics, and photocatalytic activity. We quantitatively measure the rate of Hydrogen Evolution Reaction by nanoparticles composed of various donor:acceptor blend ratio compositions and find that the most active blend ratio displays a Hydrogen Quantum Yield of 0.83 % per photon. Moreover, we find that nanoparticle photocatalytic activity corresponds directly to charge generation, and that nanoparticles have 3 times more long-lived accumulated charges relative to bulk samples of the same material composition. These results suggest that, under our current reaction conditions, with approximately 3$\times$ solar flux, catalytic activity by these nanoparticles is limited by the concentration of electrons and holes in operando and not a finite number of active surface cites or the catalytic rate at the interface. This provides a clear design goal for the next generation of efficient photocatalytic nanoparticles.


Microwave conductivity
Organic Nanoparticle
Hydrogen Evolution
exciton-charge annihilation

Supplementary materials

Supporting Information
Supporting data and figures including all microwave conductivity data, TEM, absorption, and dynamic light scattering characterization.


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