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Photocatalyst Surface Cooperativity Vital for Extracting H2

Drs. Cyrus Dreyer, Marivi Fern√°ndez-Serra, Matt Dawber, and collaborators have revealed the mechanism behind the splitting of water at the surface of strontium titanate (SrTiO3).


Water at the surface of the SrTiO3 can use the energy of an incoming photon to split into hydrogen (H2), an eco-friendly fuel source, and oxygen.

Similar methods of splitting water have faced difficulties achieving the needed efficiency to be practical, and the exact mechanism of the splitting was not well understood. This new research could pave the way for more systematic searches of efficient photocatalyst surfaces.


Figure 6(a). V. Sharma et al.

The discovered mechanism is illustrated in the figure above. Each step highlights the removed hydrogen atom in gray. The water molecules at the SrO surface go through a sequence of intermediate steps that result in water splitting.

A summary article hightlighting the work may be found here. The published article may be found here.