Learn more about what Beckman Young Investigator Dr. Prashant Jain (UIUC '14) has been working on:
Multi-electron redox reactions, although central to artificial photosynthesis, are kinetically sluggish. Amidst the search for synthetic catalysts for such processes, plasmonic nanoparticles have been found to catalyse multi-electron reduction of CO2 under visible light. This example motivates the need for a general, insight-driven framework for plasmonic catalysis of such multi-electron chemistry. Here, we elucidate the principles underlying the extraction of multiple redox equivalents from a plasmonic photocatalyst. We measure the kinetics of electron harvesting from a gold nanoparticle photocatalyst as a function of photon flux. Our measurements, supported by theoretical modelling, reveal a regime where two-electron transfer from the excited gold nanoparticle becomes prevalent. Multiple electron harvesting becomes possible under continuous-wave, visible-light excitation of moderate intensity due to strong interband transitions in gold and electron–hole separation accomplished using a hole scavenger. These insights will help expand the utility of plasmonic photocatalysis beyond CO2 reduction to other challenging multi-electron, multi-proton transformations such as N2 fixation.
Youngsoo Kim, Jeremy G. Smith and Prashant K. Jain