Simultaneous optimization of colloidal stability and interfacial charge transfer efficiency in photocatalytic Pt/CdS nanocrystals

Li Wei, Jonathan Lee, Frank Jäckel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colloidal stability and efficient interfacial charge transfer in semiconductor nanocrystals are of great importance for photocatalytic applications in aqueous solution since they provide long-term functionality and high photocatalytic activity, respectively. However, colloidal stability and interfacial charge transfer efficiency are difficult to optimize simultaneously since the ligand layer often acts as both a shell stabilizing the nanocrystals in colloidal suspension and a barrier reducing the efficiency of interfacial charge transfer. Here, we show that, for cysteine-coated, Pt-decorated CdS nanocrystals and Na2SO3 as hole scavenger, triethanolamine (TEOA) replaces the original cysteine ligands in situ and prolongs the highly efficient and steady H2 evolution period by more than a factor of 10. It is shown that Na2SO3 is consumed during H2 generation while TEOA makes no significant contribution to the H2 generation. An apparent quantum yield of 31.5%, a turnover frequency of 0.11 H2/Pt/s, and an interfacial charge transfer rate faster than 0.3 ps were achieved in the TEOA stabilized system. The short length, branched structure and weak binding of TEOA to CdS as well as sufficient free TEOA in the solution are the keys to enhancing colloidal stability and maintaining efficient interfacial charge transfer at the same time. Additionally, TEOA is commercially available and cheap, and we anticipate that this approach can be widely applied in many photocatalytic applications involving colloidal nanocrystals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29434-29441
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2016


  • aggregation-free
  • electron transfer
  • hole scavenging
  • water splitting
  • photocatalysis; solar fuels; transient absorption spectroscopy


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