High quantum efficiency of hydrogen production from methanol aqueous solution with PtCu–TiO2 photocatalysts

Hui Wang, Haifeng Qi, Xiao Sun, Shuya Jia, Xiyi Li, Tina Jingyan Miao, Lunqiao Xiong, Shihao Wang, Xiaolei Zhang, Xiaoyan Liu, Aiqin Wang, Tao Zhang, Weixin Huang, Junwang Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Methanol with 12.5 wt% H2 content is widely considered a liquid hydrogen medium. Taking into account water with 11.1 wt% H2 content, H2 synthesis from the mixture of water and methanol is a promising method for on-demand hydrogen production. We demonstrate an atomic-level catalyst design strategy using the synergy between single atoms and nanodots for H2 production. The PtCu–TiO2 sandwich photocatalyst achieves a remarkable H2 formation rate (2,383.9 µmol h–1) with a high apparent quantum efficiency (99.2%). Furthermore, the oxidation product is a high-value chemical formaldehyde with 98.6% selectivity instead of CO2, leading to a nearly zero-carbon-emission process. Detailed investigations indicate a dual role of the copper atoms: an electron acceptor to facilitate photoelectron transfer to Pt, and a hole acceptor for the selective oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde, thus avoiding over-oxidation to CO2. The synergy between Pt nanodots and Cu single atoms together reduces the activation energy of this process to 13.2 kJ mol–1.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-626
Number of pages8
JournalNature Materials
Issue number5
Early online date10 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2023


  • methanol
  • H2
  • quantum efficiency
  • energy sources


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