Photocatalytic water splitting for hydrogen evolution as an attractive strategy for developing sustainable energy by utilizing sunlight has attracted enormous research efforts. Cadmium sulfide (CdS) with visible light response and proper energy band structure has been studied intensively. To suppress the recombination of charge carriers and facilitate the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) over CdS, electrically conductive graphene and active-site-abundant MoS2 have proven to be efficient dual cocatalysts to improve the photocatalytic HER performance of CdS. In this review, we will focus on the representative ternary composite photocatalysts of CdS-graphene-MoS2. The synthesis approaches are first summarized, followed by the discussion of the roles of each component in the composites. Then main attention will be paid to highlighting the effects of the microscopic structures of the components on the photocatalytic performance of the composites for HER applications. It is expected that this review could be helpful to the rational design and further optimization of semiconductor-based composite photocatalysts through materials engineering strategies for solar energy conversion.
With the increasing global energy requirements, the utilization and development of clean and renewable energy have received enormous attention during the past decades , , , , . In this regard, using solar energy to drive hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is one of the most attractive strategies considering the abundance of solar energy, the environmental friendliness of hydrogen energy and their cleanness and sustainability , , , , , , . To facilitate such desirable solar-to-fuel conversion, the construction of efficient photocatalysts is of great significance , . From the perspective of efficient solar energy utilization, visible-light-responsive semiconductors are a preferable candidate for photocatalytic HER , .
CdS is one of the most studied semiconductor photocatalysts due to its appropriate band gap (2.4 eV) corresponding well with the spectrum of sunlight and the size-dependent electronic and optical properties , , . In addition, CdS possesses suitable energy band structure, which enables its conduction band electrons with sufficient energy to reduce H2O/H+ to H2 under visible light irradiation , . On the other hand, the HER efficiency of CdS is mainly restricted by two factors. One is its high recombination rate of photogenerated electron-hole pairs, and the other is its relatively large overpotential for HER , . Thus far, many efforts have been made to enhance the performance of CdS for HER by introducing dual cocatalysts that can accept electrons or holes (such as noble metal , , , carbon materials , , , , and cobalt phosphide , , , ) to facilitate the charge separation and provide abundant reactive sites (such as Pt and MoS2 ) to lower the overpotential for HER, respectively.
Among the reported dual cocatalysts to improve the photocatalytic HER performance of CdS , , , , , , , , , , , graphene and MoS2 have attracted great research interests , , , as demonstrated by the summary in Table 1. Graphene with high electrical conductivity can accept and shuttle the electrons photogenerated from CdS to promote the charge separation , , , , . MoS2, as a typical layered transition metal sulfide, has been demonstrated to be an efficient cocatalyst for HER due to the strong bonds between the S atoms on its exposed edges and the H+ in the solution, which favors the reduction of H+ to H2 by electrons . Besides, as compared to Pt cocatalyst, graphene and MoS2 feature with low cost and high earth abundance.
|Photocatalysts||Optimal ratio||Light source||Sacrificial agent||H2 production rate||AQEa||Ref. year|
|MoS2 nanosheets-graphene-CdS nanoparticles||The MoS2/graphene cocatalyst is 2 wt% and the molar ratio of MoS2 to graphene is 1:2||Visible light|
300 W Xe lamp
(0.35 mol L−1)
|1.8 mmol h−1|
1.2 mmol h−1
|28.1% at 420 nm|
20.6% at 420 nm
|CdS/MoS2/graphene hollow spheres||CdS/5 wt% MoS2/2 wt% graphene||Visible light|
300 W Xe lamp
|1913 μmol h−1 g−1||/|||
|CdS nanoparticles-graphene-MoS2 nanoplates||Mass ratio of CdS, graphene and MoS2 is 100:0.4:2||UV-visible light;|
500 W UV-vis lamp
|3.072 mL h−1||/|||
|Multiarmed CdS nanorods-MoS2-graphene||Molar ratio of MoS2 to graphene 8:1; 2.5% of the cocatalyst||Visible light|
350 W Xe arc lamp
|621.3 mmol h−1||54.4% at 420 nm|||
|CdS nanorod-graphene-MoS2||The weight contents of graphene and MoS2 is 20% and 10%, respectively||300 W Xe lamp (100 mW/cm2) attached to a UV and IR filters||Lactic acid|
|7.1 mmol h−1 g−1|
6.52 mmol h−1 g−1
|CdS nanoparticles-graphene-MoS2||(1.5 wt% graphene/CdS)-1.5 wt% MoS2c||Visible light|
350 W Xe lamp
|99 μmol h−1||9.8% at 420 nm|||
|CdS nanoparticles-graphene-MoS2||(1 wt% graphene-CdS)-1 wt% MoS2d||Visible light|
300 W Xe arc lamp
|513 μmol h−1||26.8% at 420 nm|||
|MoS2-graphene-CdS mixed nanoparticles/nanorods||5 wt% MoS2-graphene loaded; the weight ratio of MoS2 to graphene is 19:1||Visible light|
300 W Xe lamp
|2.32 mmol h−1||65.8% at 420 nm|||
|MoS2 nanosheets/N-doped graphene/CdS nanoparticles||The weight content of MoS2/ N-doped graphene is 3 wt%e||Visible light|
300 W Xe lamp
|5.01 mmol h−1 g−1||46.5% at 420 nm|||
aAQE refers to apparent quantum efficiency.
bThe concentration of Na2S-Na2SO3 is unavailable .
cThe photodeposition of MoS2 on 1.5 wt% graphene/CdS is performed at the pH of 11 .
dThe MoS2 is introduced on the surface of graphene-CdS by photodeposition method .
eThe ratio of MoS2 to graphene in MoS2-graphene composite is not given. The weight ratio of their precursors, ammonium molybdate tetrahydrate and GO is 2:1 .
Considering graphene and MoS2 as typical paradigm used as dual cocatalysts to systematically improve the photocatalytic performances of semiconductor CdS toward HER, in this review, we will mainly focus on the ternary CdS-graphene-MoS2 composite photocatalysts to summarize their synthesis approaches and discuss the roles, and more importantly, the effects of the microscopic structures of each component on the photocatalytic performance of the composites for HER applications. It is hoped that the summary of the advances on this representative multinary photocatalytic system could be conducive to the further enhancement of the performances by the components optimization, and for the rational design and construction of other multiple cocatalysts-composed composites with high performance toward sustainable energy conversion and utilization.
Synthesis of ternary CdS-graphene-MoS2 composite photocatalysts
The general synthetic strategies of CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites can be mainly classified into two types, as illustrated in Fig. 1. The first strategy (Fig. 1a) is to combine the precursors or as-prepared counterparts of each component together to prepare the ternary composites via one-pot route, such as hydrothermal treatment and sonication process , , , . For example, Yu et al. have developed a biomolecule-assisted one-pot strategy toward the fabrication of novel CdS/MoS2/graphene hollow spheres . They used cadmium acetate, sodium molybdate, and graphene oxide (GO) as the precursors of CdS, MoS2 and graphene, respectively, and L-cysteine as the sulfur source for the simultaneous formation of CdS and MoS2. Notably, L-cysteine can also act as a complexing agent and structure directing molecule through the conjugation with metal ions or other functional groups, and the sodium molybdate plays a dual role as precursor of MoS2 and weakly alkaline additive. During the hydrothermal reaction, Cd (Mo)-cysteine complexes are firstly formed due to the interaction between Cd (Mo) precursors and cysteine (stage I in Fig. 2). The Cd (Mo)-cysteine complexes are self-assembled into sphere-shaped particles through the attachment of complex with abundant uncoordinated groups followed by the hybridization of GO due to the strong affinity of its surface oxygen-containing functional groups with the uncoordinated groups of the Cd (Mo)-cysteine complexes (stage II in Fig. 2). Then the complexes are slowly pyrolysed, resulting in the formation of cadmium (molybdenum) sulfide nuclei on GO (stage III in Fig. 2). Meanwhile, the released H2S acts not only as a sulfur source for the nucleation of semiconductor nanocrystals, but also as a reductant for the restoration of sp2 conjugated structures in graphene. Due to the Ostwald ripening process and the generation of gas bubbles (stage IV in Fig. 2), CdS/MoS2/graphene hollow spheres are obtained.
As for the second strategy (Fig. 1b), two steps are often involved; that is, binary composites (such as CdS-graphene or graphene-MoS2) are synthesized firstly, and then the third component is introduced. For instance, our group has reported the two-step synthesis approach of CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites, as depicted in Fig. 3 . The graphene-CdS composites are fabricated via a solvothermal reaction. During such process, CdS nanoparticles are formed and spread uniformly on the surface of graphene nanosheets. Then MoS2 can be prepared based on this binary composite through room-temperature photodeposition (PD) approach using ammonium tetrathiomolybdate as the precursor, or hydrothermal method using sodium molybdate and thioacetamide as the precursors. Zhang et al. have prepared a hierarchical nanoarchitecture by decorating the perpendicular hybrid of MoS2 and N-doped graphene (NRGO) nanosheets with CdS nanoparticles through a two-step method. Firstly, the MoS2 nanosheets are vertically grown on the surface of NRGO sheets to obtain MoS2@NRGO (MNRGO) composites. Next, CdS nanoparticles are formed on the surfaces of MNRGO through a solvothermal method, during which MoS2 nanosheets and NRGO sheets in the MNRGO composite offer a template for nucleation growth of CdS nanoparticles, and poly(vinylpyrrolidone) (PVP) as a capping agent with the structure of the polyvinyl skeleton plays an indispensable role in preventing the further growth and agglomeration of CdS nanoparticles.
The advantage of the first strategy lies in its facile operation. As for the second strategy, despite its multiple steps, such procedures provide more possibilities for the control of the microstructures, such as spatial distribution and interfacial contacts among the components and thus for optimizing the performances of the composites, which will be discussed in detail later (see the Section of ‘The effects of components microstructure on the HER performances of composites’).
The roles of dual cocatalysts in enhancing the photoactivity of CdS for HER
In the reported ternary CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites applied for photocatalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), as listed in Table 1, CdS is generally band-gap-excited to produce electron-hole pairs and MoS2 provides abundant active sites for HER with low overpotential. The role of graphene has been demonstrated to be versatile, including (i) shuttling the excited electrons from the conduction band (CB) of CdS to the active edge sites of MoS2 for catalytic H2 production, (ii) increasing the specific surface area of the composites, and (iii) inhibiting the aggregation of CdS and restacking of MoS2 layers , . The well-accepted charge transfer and reaction mechanism over CdS-graphene-MoS2 photocatalysts for HER is illustrated in Fig. 4. Under visible light irradiation, the charge carriers are created in the CB of CdS. Graphene can accept the electrons from the conduction band (CB) of CdS and then transfer to MoS2 to promote the charge separation process. As for the case that there is direct interfacial contact between CdS and MoS2, the electrons from CB of CdS can directly transfer to MoS2 for HER. Then MoS2 facilitates the photogenerated electrons participating in the photocatalytic H2 production. The holes left on the valence band (VB) of CdS are consumed by the sacrificial agent.
The effects of components microstructure on the HER performances of composites
After understanding the main roles of each component in the CdS-graphene-MoS2 hybrid photocatalysts, in this Section, we will pay attention to discussing the effects of the components microstructure on the photoactivity of CdS-graphene-MoS2 for HER.
The effect of CdS morphology
Considering the role of CdS as photoactive component to produce electron-hole pairs, the optimization of CdS component is mainly aimed at improving its capability for more efficiently generating charge carriers to enhance the photoactivity of the composites. It has been demonstrated that tuning the morphology of CdS is able to boost the performance of CdS-based photocatalysts for H2 production from water , , , . For example, Liu et al. have synthesized MoS2-graphene/CdS composites through a hydrothermal process using as-prepared CdS nanoparticles (NPs), MoS2 microspheres and graphene oxide (GO) as the precursors . As shown in Fig. 5a, in the ternary composite obtained at 180°C for 12 h, CdS exhibits a mixed nanoparticles (NPs)/nanorods (NRs) morphology; accordingly, the composite is denoted as M-G/CdS(NP-NR). It has been demonstrated that the interactions between the functional groups on GO and the surface of CdS NPs during the preparation might facilitate the growth of CdS NRs in the c-axis  direction. As for the sample prepared at 160°C for 12 h, only CdS NPs can be observed and such sample is denoted as denoted as M-G/CdS(NP). Notably, M-G/CdS(NR) composites cannot be prepared by the similar hydrothermal treatment when using CdS NPs as the precursor. Therefore, for comparison, M-G/CdS(NR) sample has been prepared using CdS NRs as the starting materials.
The photoactivity of these samples as well as CdS, MoS2-CdS (M/CdS), graphene-CdS (G/CdS) as comparison counterparts has been evaluated by H2 evolution reaction (HER) under visible light irradiation (λ>400 nm) with lactic acid as a sacrificial agent. It can be seen from Fig. 5b that bare CdS shows a relatively low photocatalytic activity with a H2 evolution rate of 0.18 mmol h−1 due to its rapid recombination of electrons and holes. The rates of H2 evolution for the M/CdS and G/CdS are increased to 1.34 mmol h−1 and 0.27 mmol h−1, respectively. These results indicate that MoS2 and graphene can act as co-catalyst to improve the HER performances of CdS. In the presence of both MoS2 and graphene with their weight ratio of 19:1, the H2 evolution rate of M-G/CdS(NP) is 1.87 mmol h−1, which is higher than both of M/CdS and G/CdS. Notably, M-G/CdS(NP-NR) exhibits the highest H2 evolution rate of 2.32 mmol h−1. The quantum yield (QY) for H2 evolution over M-G/CdS(NP-NR) was 65.8% at 420 nm, which is comparable to those reported over Pt/CdS , . The enhanced photocatalytic performance of M-G/CdS(NP-NR) has been ascribed to the synergistic effects of three aspects: (i) effective electron-hole separation and transfer of CdS with mixed NPs/NRs morphology [as manifested by the highest photocurrent density of M-G/CdS(NP-NR) among the samples in Fig. 5c], (ii) excellent electron conductivity and large surface area of graphene, and (iii) the increased surface area and HER reactive sites . Based on the above results, a tentative mechanism for HER over M-G/CdS has been proposed, as illustrated in Fig. 5d. Under visible light illumination, the electrons are excited to the conduction band (CB) of CdS NPs and NRs, creating holes in the valence band (VB) simultaneously. The CB electrons of CdS can be injected into the graphene sheets because the graphene/graphene˙− redox potential is lower than the CB of CdS . The MoS2 nanosheets can accept electrons (either directly from CdS or through the graphene electron transfer mediator) and act as reactive sites for H2 evolution. Such two electron transfer ways can effectively suppress the charge recombination and prolong the lifetime of the charge carriers, which in turn results in enhanced photocatalytic activity for H2 evolution. The holes in the system are trapped by the sacrificial agent of lactic acid. In addition, the M-G/CdS(NP-NR) composite photocatalyst exhibits no obvious deactivation during the HER process.
The effect of MoS2 morphology and crystallinity
It is known that the MoS2 as an efficient cocatalyst for HER can accept the photogenerated electrons from semiconductor CdS to reduce H+ for H2 production with low overpotential. There have been some advances achieved on how to improve the efficiency of MoS2 in enhancing the photocatalytic HER performance of semiconductors , . It has demonstrated that the cocatalytic activities of MoS2 are derived from the uncoordinated sulfur edge sites while its basal planes remain catalytically inert , , . Therefore, the efficiency of MoS2 for HER can be improved by optimizing the structure and morphology of MoS2 to increase its catalytic reactive sites , , .
For instance, our group has prepared two series of graphene (GR)-CdS-MoS2 composites through two-step wet-chemistry strategies, which are denoted as GR-CdS-MoS2 (photodeposition, PD) and GR-CdS-MoS2 (hydrothermal, HT), respectively, as illustrated in Fig. 3 . Their photoactivities for HER have been investigated under visible light irradiation (λ>420 nm). The performance of bare CdS has also been evaluated for comparison. It can be seen from Fig. 6a that the rate of H2 evolution over CdS is relatively low (19 μmol h−1), which should be ascribed to the rapid recombination of photogenerated electron-hole pairs and the lack of reactive sites for proton reduction. After coupling with MoS2 or both of MoS2 and graphene (GR), its photoactivities are much enhanced. With the photodeposition of 1%MoS2, the composite of CdS-1%MoS2 displays the H2 evolution activity of 305 μmol h−1, which is even higher than that of CdS-1%Pt. The modification of CdS with two cocatalysts of GR and MoS2 through photodeposition method leads to the further improved photoactivity toward H2 evolution. As shown in Fig. 6a, the (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (PD) with optimal ratios exhibits the highest H2 production rate of 513 μmol h−1, corresponding to an apparent quantum efficiency (AQE) of 26.8% at 420 nm. However, with the same optimal ratios, the (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (HT) shows much lower photoactivity than (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (PD). These results imply that the photodeposition of MoS2 is more beneficial than the hydrothermal loading of MoS2 onto GR-CdS for improving its photocatalytic performance for H2 production from water. The characterization results indicate that tiny MoS2 with homogeneous dispersion is obtained in the GR-CdS-MoS2 (PD) (Fig. 6b), while in the GR-CdS-MoS2 (HT), MoS2 displays typical layer structure with the thickness of 4–8 nm (Fig. 6c). Obviously, the homogeneously photodeposited MoS2 with a tiny size can provide more catalytic reactive sites than the hydrothermal synthesized MoS2 with stacked layer structure, which is able to facilitate the separation and transfer of photoexcited electron-hole pairs generated from CdS more efficiently, as reflected by the lowered overpotential (Fig. 6d), enhanced photocurrent density (Fig. 6e), and decreased interfacial impedance (Fig. 6f) of (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (PD) as compared to other samples. In addition, (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (PD) exhibits enhanced anti-photocorrosion performance and thus improved photostability as compared to (1%GR-CdS)-1%MoS2 (HT).
In addition to the microstructure of MoS2, its crystallinity has also been demonstrated to be influential on the cocatalytic performance of MoS2. Ye and coworkers have found that proper annealing treatment of MoS2/graphene-CdS (denoted as MoS2/G-CdS) in an Ar atmosphere can improve the visible-light-driven photoactivity of the composites for H2 production . As shown in Fig. 7a and b, the rate of H2 evolution over the as-prepared sample obtained at 453 K is about 0.88 mmol h−1. After the annealing process, the photoactivity of the samples firstly increases and then declines with the rise of the annealing temperature. The MoS2/G-CdS with annealing treatment at 573 K exhibits the optimal performance. Such observations have been ascribed to the effects of annealing process on the crystallinity and morphology of the composites. More specifically, when relatively low synthesis temperature condition is adopted, the crystallization of MoS2 is poor, which is not advantageous to photogenerated electrons migrating to the surface for reaction. Increasing the annealing temperature to 573 K, the crystallinity of MoS2 is improved, as reflected by the XRD pattern in Fig. 7c. The HRTEM image (Fig. 7d) of MoS2/G-CdS composites (the molar ratio of MoS2 to graphene is 1:2 and the amount of MoS2/G is 2.0 wt%) after annealing at 573 K for 2 h shows a typical layered MoS2 with an interlayer distance of 0.62 nm corresponding to the information on the (002) peak of MoS2. Further increasing the annealing temperature (e.g. 673 K) leads to the agglomeration of CdS particles and uniform dispersion of MoS2-graphene cocatalysts (Fig. 7e), thus resulting in the decrease of the photoactivity. Therefore, MoS2/G-CdS composites obtained at the annealing temperature of 573 K exhibit the best photocatalytic H2 evolution activities.
The effect of graphene electrical conductivity
As discussed in the third Section ‘The roles of dual cocatalysts in enhancing the photoactivity of CdS for HER’, in the ternary CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites, one important role of graphene is to accept the electrons photogenerated from CdS and shuttle to MoS2 for the reduction of water to H2. As demonstrated by the results shown in Figs. 5–7, the introduction of graphene is able to further promote the separation and transfer of electron-hole pairs and thus the HER photoactivity enhancement of the ternary composites as compared to the binary CdS-MoS2 counterparts. Considering such function of graphene in shuttling electrons, the electrical conductivity is a key factor to determine its electron-accepting and transfer capability, thus affecting the photocatalytic HER performance of the composites.
Liu and coworkers have investigated the effect of the electrical conductivity of graphene on the photoactivity of CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites . They have employed two-step hydrothermal processes to synthesize CdS-graphene-MoS2, as illustrated in Fig. 8a. Firstly, GO, ammonium molybdate tetrahydrate and thiourea are mixed to undergo hydrothermal reactions. They have found that with the reaction time of 24 h, MoS2-RGO (MRGO) is obtained; when the reaction time is prolonged to 72 h, nitrogen doping in the RGO occurs, thus leading to the formation of MoS2/N-doped RGO (MNRGO). Based on MRGO or MNRGO, CdS component is then introduced. Taking MNRGO as an example, it can be seen from Fig. 8b and c that MoS2 nanosheets grow on the surfaces of NRGO sheets and the CdS nanoparticles (NPs) of hexagonal phase are distributed on both the surfaces and the edges of MoS2 and NRGO nanosheets. This has been further confirmed by the TEM elemental mappings. As shown in Fig. 8d–i, the elements of Mo, S, and Cd are uniformly distributed across the NGRO formwork consisting of C and N elementals.
The photocatalytic HER performance of the samples has been evaluated under visible light irradiation (λ>420 nm). Figure 8j displays the comparison of the hydrogen production rates of CdS@MNRGOx with CdS@MRGOx (x is the weight percentage of MRGO or MNRGO in the composites, which equals to 1, 3, 5, or 8). It is observed that with the same content of cocatalysts, CdS@MNRGO hybrids exhibit higher H2 evolution rates than CdS@MRGO. This should be ascribed to that in the N-doped RGO (NRGO), the N atom activates the adjacent C atom by tailoring its electron donor acceptor property and consequently lead to improved electrical conductivity , , . Therefore, the hierarchical nanoarchitectures of CdS@MNRGO would facilitate more efficient electron separation and transfer, and thus exhibit better photocatalytic performance for H2 evolution than the non-N-doped counterpart CdS@MRGO .
The effect of the components spatial distribution
The intimate interfacial contact among the components has proven to be crucial for the efficient charge separation and thus for enhancing the photocatalytic performance of the composites, which has been evidenced by the higher photoactivity of the hybrids prepared through in situ growth approach than the counterparts obtained by mechanical mixing method , . It is worth noting that in addition to the interfacial contact, the spatial distribution of the components also has important influence on the performance of the composites. For example, Li et al. have found that MoS2 can be controllably loaded on the surface of graphene or CdS of the graphene-CdS composites at different pH values (Fig. 9e) . More specifically, reduced graphene oxide (RGO)/CdS composites are firstly prepared by a solvothermal method using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a sulfide source and reducing agent. Then MoS2 is loaded onto the RGO/CdS by a facile photodeposition method using (NH4)2MoS4 as a precursor. The selective deposition of MoS2 onto RGO or CdS can be achieved by adjusting the pH value of the solution. At low pH value (e.g. 7), MoS2 preferentially deposits on the surface of the CdS particles of the composite; as for high pH value of 11, it loads on the exposed RGO, as observed in Fig. 9a–d, respectively. Such modulation on the spatial distribution of MoS2 can be ascribed to the variation of the zeta potentials of CdS and RGO and thus their interaction with MoS42− along with the change of pH value .
Figure 9f displays the effect of different spatial distribution of MoS2 on the photocatalytic H2 evolution over RGO/CdS/MoS2 composites under visible light irradiation (λ>420 nm). For the RGO1.5(wt%)/CdS/MoS2-7 (pH 7) sample, a low activity (23 μmol h−1) can be observed. With the increase of pH value, the activity exhibits a parabolic trend. At the pH value of 11, the sample RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-11 (pH 11) reaches the highest photocatalytic HER activity (99 μmol h−1), which is enhanced by a factor of 4.3 as compared to RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-7. However, when the depositing pH is 12, the activity decreases to some extent (80 μmol h−1), which may be due to the too high loading ratio of MoS2 (~77 wt%) to RGO1.5/CdS . The distinct difference in the photoactivity of RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-7 and RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-11 has been ascribed to the different spatial distribution of the components, which leads to dissimilar charge transfer process. For the sample of RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-7 with MoS2 loading on CdS, the photoexcited electrons of CdS that are injected into RGO could not effectively reduce water into H2 due to the lack of reactive sites. In this case, RGO would by contraries act as a recombination center of the electron-hole pairs (Fig. 9g), leading to the low HER activity. This indicates that the electron transferring from CdS to RGO is antisynergic with the HER at CdS. Besides, the MoS2 deposited on the CdS may shield the light absorption of CdS, which is disadvantage to the formation of charge carriers and thus the photoactivity of the composites. For RGO1.5/CdS/MoS2-11, because of MoS2 depositing on RGO, the electrons can transfer from the conduction band of CdS to RGO and then to MoS2, as illustrated in Fig. 9h. Such effective separation of the electron-hole pairs by RGO is compatible with HER at the MoS2 on RGO, which leads to positive synergic effect among the components for photocatalytic HER .
Based on this work, we can acquire that as for multinary composite photocatalysts, besides the intimate interfacial contact among the components, their spatial distribution also needs to be taken into account. The modification of the component spatial distribution is able to tune the types of interfaces formed in the composites, which will affect the charge transfer pathway, the efficacy of the components, and thus the photoactivity of the composites.
In summary, the photoactivity enhancement of CdS for hydrogen production from water has been achieved by coupling with graphene and MoS2 as dual cocatalysts. On the basis of the roles of each component in the CdS-graphene-MoS2 composites for photocatalytic hydrogen evolution, materials engineering approaches to maximize the functionality of the components and exert their synergistic effects have been summarized in this review. These progresses demonstrate the importance of rational design and construction of multinary composite photocatalysts with specific microstructures, and also highlight the potential of component and interface (including the interaction and the types of different heterojunctions formed among the components) optimization for improving the photocatalytic performance of the resulting composites.
On the other hand, regarding the photocatalytic hydrogen evolution systems based on CdS with dual cocatalyst (such as graphene-MoS2), some key issues related to the underlying charge transfer and reaction mechanism over the multinary composite photocatalysts are worthy of further investigation and better understanding, including (i) the dynamic processes of the separation and transfer of charge carriers; (ii) the transfer pathway of photogenerated holes left in the valence band of semiconductor CdS, (iii) the explicit contribution of sacrificial agent (such as the protonation of lactic acid), and (iv) how to effectively suppress the photocorrosion of CdS. To address the above concerns, the advanced characterizations, such as transient absorption spectroscopy, photoinduced absorption spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy, theoretical simulations and more dedicated experiments are needed to be jointly employed. The information in this regard is expected to provide guideline for the design and synthesis of more efficient photocatalytic systems for solar-to-fuel conversion.
A collection of peer-reviewed articles by the winners of the 2017 IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists.
Funding source: National Natural Science Foundation of China
Award Identifier / Grant number: U1463204 and 21173045
Funding source: China Postdoctoral Science Foundation
Award Identifier / Grant number: 2017M622052
Funding statement: The support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1463204 and 21173045), the Award Program for Minjiang Scholar Professorship, the Independent Research Project of State Key Laboratory of Photocatalysis on Energy and Environment (No. 2014A05), the 1st Program of Fujian Province for Top Creative Young Talents, the Natural Science Foundation (NSF) of Fujian Province for Distinguished Young Investigator Rolling Grant (2017J07002), the Program for Returned High-Level Overseas Chinese Scholars of Fujian province, the National Postdoctoral Program for Innovative Talents (BX201700053) and the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2017M622052) is gratefully acknowledged.
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