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FexNi9-xS8 (x = 3-6) as potential photocatalysts for solar-driven hydrogen production?

: Tetzlaff, David; Simon, Christopher; Achilleos, Demetra S.; Smialkowski, Mathias; junge Puring, Kai; Bloesser, André; Piontek, Stefan; Siegmund, Daniel; Reisner, Erwin; Marschall, Roland; Kasap, H.; Apfel, Ulf-Peter


Faraday discussions 215 (2019), pp.216-226
ISSN: 1364-5498
ISSN: 1359-6640
Journal Article
Fraunhofer UMSICHT Oberhausen ()
photocatalyst; hydrogen production

The efficient reduction of protons by non-noble metals under mild conditions is a challenge for our modern society. Nature utilises hydrogenases, enzymatic machineries that comprise iron- and nickel- containing active sites, to perform the conversion of protons to hydrogen. We herein report a straightforward synthetic pathway towards well-defined particles of the bio-inspired material FexNi9-xS8, a structural and functional analogue of hydrogenases metal sulfur clusters. Moreover, the potential of pentlandite to serve as photocatalysts for solar-driven H2-production is assessed for the first time. The FexNi9-xS8 materials are visible light responsive (band gaps between 2.02 and 2.49 eV, depending on the pentlandites Fe : Ni content) and display a conduction band energy close to the thermodynamic potential for proton reduction. Despite the limited driving force, a modest activity for photocatalytic H2 has been observed. Our observations show the potential for the future development of pentlandites as photocatalysts. Our work provides a basis to explore powerful synergies between biomimetic chemistry and material design to unlock novel applications in solar energy conversion.