Modulating electron density of vacancy site by single Au atom for effective CO2 photoreduction

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The surface electron density significantly affects the photocatalytic efficiency, especially the photocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction, which involves multi-electron participation in the conversion process. Herein, we propose a conceptually different mechanism for surface electron density modulation based on the model of Au anchored CdS. We firstly manipulate the direction of electron transfer by regulating the vacancy types of CdS. When electrons accumulate on vacancies instead of single Au atoms, the adsorption types of CO2 change from physical adsorption to chemical adsorption. More importantly, the surface electron density is manipulated by controlling the size of Au nanostructures. When Au nanoclusters downsize to single Au atoms, the strong hybridization of Au 5d and S 2p orbits accelerates the photo-electrons transfer onto the surface, resulting in more electrons available for CO2 reduction. As a result, the product generation rate of AuSA/Cd1−xS manifests a remarkable at least 113-fold enhancement compared with pristine Cd1−xS.


  • Yuehan Cao
  • Lan Guo
  • Meng Dan
  • Dmitry E. Doronkin
  • Chunqiu Han
  • Zhiqiang Rao
  • Yang Liu
  • Jie Meng
  • Zeai Huang
  • Kaibo Zheng
  • Peng Chen
  • Fan Dong
  • Ying Zhou
External organisations
  • Southwest Petroleum University
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Technical University of Denmark
  • University of Electronic Science and Technology of China
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Physical Chemistry
Original languageEnglish
Article number1675
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch