5 years ago

Photocatalytic Conversion of Nitrogen to Ammonia with Water on Surface Oxygen Vacancies of Titanium Dioxide

Photocatalytic Conversion of Nitrogen to Ammonia with Water on Surface Oxygen Vacancies of Titanium Dioxide
Takayuki Hirai, Yasuhiro Shiraishi, Masaki Hashimoto, Hiroaki Hirakawa
Ammonia (NH3) is an essential chemical in modern society. It is currently manufactured by the Haber–Bosch process using H2 and N2 under extremely high-pressure (>200 bar) and high-temperature (>673 K) conditions. Photocatalytic NH3 production from water and N2 at atmospheric pressure and room temperature is ideal. Several semiconductor photocatalysts have been proposed, but all suffer from low efficiency. Here we report that a commercially available TiO2 with a large number of surface oxygen vacancies, when photoirradiated by UV light in pure water with N2, successfully produces NH3. The active sites for N2 reduction are the Ti3+ species on the oxygen vacancies. These species act as adsorption sites for N2 and trapping sites for the photoformed conduction band electrons. These properties therefore promote efficient reduction of N2 to NH3. The solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiency is 0.02%, which is the highest efficiency among the early reported photocatalytic systems. This noble-metal-free TiO2 system therefore shows a potential as a new artificial photosynthesis for green NH3 production.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/jacs.7b06634

DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b06634

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