Water Photo-oxidation Initiated by Surface-Bound Organic Chromophores

J Am Chem Soc. 2017 Nov 15;139(45):16248-16255. doi: 10.1021/jacs.7b08317. Epub 2017 Oct 31.


Organic chromophores can be synthesized by established methods and offer an opportunity to expand overall solar spectrum utilization for dye-sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cells. However, there are complications in the use of organic chromophores arising from the instability of their oxidized forms, the inability of their oxidized forms to activate a water oxidation catalyst, or the absence of a sufficiently reducing excited state for electron injection into appropriate semiconductors. Three new triarylamine donor-acceptor organic dyes have been investigated here for visible-light-driven water oxidation. They offer highly oxidizing potentials (>1 V vs NHE in aqueous solution) that are sufficient to drive a water oxidation catalyst and excited-state potentials (∼-1.2 V vs NHE) sufficient to inject into TiO2. The oxidized form of one of the chromophores is sufficiently stable to exhibit reversible electrochemistry in aqueous solution. The chromophores also have favorable photophysics. Visible-light-driven oxygen production by an organic chromophore for up to 1 h of operation has been demonstrated with reasonable faradaic efficiencies for measured O2 production. The properties of organic chromophores necessary for successfully driving water oxidation in a light-driven system are explored along with strategies for improving device performance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.