Superior H2 production by hydrophilic ultrafine Ta2O5 engineered covalently on graphene
A H2O2-mediated hydrothermal method was developed for the fabrication of hydrophilic Ta2O5/graphene composite. The composite shows a superior H2 productivity, up to 30 mmol g-1 h-1 when used as a photocatalyst for water splitting, corresponding to an apparent quantum efficiency of 33.8% at 254 nm. This superior performance is due to the hydrophilic nature of the composite and more importantly due to the ultrafine Ta2O5 nanoparticles (about 4.0 ± 1.5 nm) which are covalently bonded with the conductive graphene. The hydrophilic property of the composite is attributed to the use of H2O2 in the hydrothermal process. The ultrafine size of the Ta2O5 particles which are covalently bonded with the graphene sheets is attributed to the use of sonication in the synthesis process. Furthermore, the hydrophilic Ta2O5/Gr composite is durable, which is beneficial to long term photocatalysis. The strategy reported here provides a new approach to designing photocatalysts with superior performance for H2 production.