Nano Research

Article Title

Enhanced CH4 yield by photocatalytic CO2 reduction using TiO2 nanotube arrays grafted with Au, Ru, and ZnPd nanoparticles


metal nanoparticles (NPs), TiO2 nanotube arrays (TNAs), colloidal synthesis, band bending, built-in potential, photocatalytic CO2 reduction, semiconductor heterojunctions


ABSTRACT Metal nanoparticle (NP) co-catalysts on metal oxide semiconductor supports are attracting attention as photocatalysts for a variety of chemical reactions. Related efforts seek to make and use Pt-free catalysts. In this regard, we report here enhanced CH4 formation rates of 25 and 60 μmol·g–1·h–1 by photocatalytic CO2 reduction using hitherto unused ZnPd NPs as well as Au and Ru NPs. The NPs are formed by colloidal synthesis and grafted onto short n-type anatase TiO2 nanotube arrays (TNAs), grown anodically on transparent glass substrates. The interfacial electric fields in the NP-grafted TiO2 nanotubes were probed by ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS). Au NP-grafted TiO2 nanotubes (Au-TNAs) showed no band bending, but a depletion region was detected in Ru NP-grafted TNAs (Ru-TNAs) and an accumulation layer was observed in ZnPd NP-grafted TNAs (ZnPd-TNAs). Temperature programmed desorption (TPD) experiments showed significantly greater CO2 adsorption on NP-grafted TNAs. TNAs with grafted NPs exhibit broader and more intense UV–visible absorption bands than bare TNAs. We found that CO2 photoreduction by nanoparticle-grafted TNAs was driven not only by ultraviolet photons with energies greater than the TiO2 band gap, but also by blue photons close to and below the anatase band edge. The enhanced rate of CO2 reduction is attributed to superior use of blue photons in the solar spectrum, excellent reactant adsorption, efficient charge transfer to adsorbates, and low recombination losses.

Graphical Abstract


Tsinghua University Press