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Nanoparticles help generate hydrogen

By Scott Jenkins |

A research team is using clusters of gold atoms at sub-nanometer sizes to enhance the photocatalytic production of hydrogen from water. Sustainable H2 production from a non-fossil-fuel source could have significant environmental and energy-efficiency benefits. The scientists, from Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, N.Y.; www.stonybrook.edu) and Brookhaven National Laboratory (Upton, N.Y.; www.bnl.gov) modified the surface of a semiconductor catalyst — cadmium sulfide — with sub-nm gold particles, and found that the activity of the CdS for evolving H2 gas photocatalytically under visible light increased by up to 35 times over that of the CdS alone. It appears that the activity enhancement of the photocatalyst is related to the sub-nanometer dimensions of the Au particles, say the researchers, because larger gold particles had much lower activity. The research team believes that surface modification with gold to increase H2 production can be extended to other semiconductor photocatalysts.
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