Sulfone-containing covalent organic frameworks for photocatalytic hydrogen evolution from water

Xiaoyan Wang, Linjiang Chen, Samantha Y. Chong, Marc A. Little, Yongzhen Wu, Wei Hong Zhu, Rob Clowes, Yong Yan, Martijn A. Zwijnenburg, Reiner Sebastian Sprick, Andrew I. Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

209 Citations (Scopus)


Nature uses organic molecules for light harvesting and photosynthesis, but most man-made water splitting catalysts are inorganic semiconductors. Organic photocatalysts, while attractive because of their synthetic tunability, tend to have low quantum efficiencies for water splitting. Here we present a crystalline covalent organic framework (COF) based on a benzo-bis(benzothiophene sulfone) moiety that shows a much higher activity for photochemical hydrogen evolution than its amorphous or semicrystalline counterparts. The COF is stable under long-term visible irradiation and shows steady photochemical hydrogen evolution with a sacrificial electron donor for at least 50 hours. We attribute the high quantum efficiency of fused-sulfone-COF to its crystallinity, its strong visible light absorption, and its wettable, hydrophilic 3.2 nm mesopores. These pores allow the framework to be dye-sensitized, leading to a further 61% enhancement in the hydrogen evolution rate up to 16.3 mmol g −1 h −1 . The COF also retained its photocatalytic activity when cast as a thin film onto a support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1180-1189
Number of pages10
JournalNature Chemistry
Issue number12
Early online date1 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • light harvesting
  • photosynthesis
  • photocatalytic hydrogen evolution

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