Nanostructured Cobalt Oxide Clusters in Mesoporous Silica as Efficient Oxygen-Evolving Catalysts
The development of integrated artificial photosynthetic systems for the direct conversion of carbon dioxide and water to fuel depends on the availability of efficient and robust catalysts for the chemical transformations. Catalysts need to exhibit turnover frequency (TOF) and density (hence size) commensurate with the solar flux at ground level (1000Wm2, airmass (AM) 1.5) to avoid wasting of incident solar photons. For example, a catalyst with a TOF of 100 s1 requires a density of one catalytic site per square nanometer. Catalysts with lower rates or taking up a larger space will require a high-surface-area, nanostructured support that affords tens to hundreds of catalytic sites per square nanometer. Furthermore, catalysts need to operate close to the thermodynamic potential of the redox reaction so that a maximum fraction of the solar photon energy is converted to chemical energy. Stability considerations favor all-inorganic oxide materials, as does avoidance of harsh reaction conditions of pH value or temperature.