Stable Isolated Metal Atoms as Active Sites for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution

Jun Xing, Jian Fu Chen, Yu Hang Li, Wen Tao Yuan, Ying Zhou, Li Rong Zheng, Hai Feng Wang*, P. Hu, Yun Wang, Hui Jun Zhao, Yong Wang, Hua Gui Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


The process of using solar energy to split water to produce hydrogen assisted by an inorganic semiconductor is crucial for solving our energy crisis and environmental problems in the future. However, most semiconductor photocatalysts would not exhibit excellent photocatalytic activity without loading suitable co-catalysts. Generally, the noble metals have been widely applied as co-catalysts, but always agglomerate during the loading process or photocatalytic reaction. Therefore, the utilization efficiency of the noble co-catalysts is still very low on a per metal atom basis if no obvious size effect exists, because heterogeneous catalytic reactions occur on the surface active atoms. Here, for the first time, we have synthesized isolated metal atoms (Pt, Pd, Rh, or Ru) stably by anchoring on TiO2, a model photocatalystic system, by a facile one-step method. The isolated metal atom based photocatalysts show excellent stability for H-2 evolution and can lead to a 6-13-fold increase in photocatalytic activity over the metal clusters loaded on TiO2 by the traditional method. Furthermore, the configurations of isolated atoms as well as the originality of their unusual stability were analyzed by a collaborative work from both experiments and theoretical calculations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2138-2144
Number of pages7
JournalChemistry - A European Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2014


  • noble metals
  • photocatalysis
  • single atom
  • titanium
  • water splitting
  • ANATASE TIO2(101)


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