Synergy of intermolecular Donor-Acceptor and ultrathin structures in crystalline carbon nitride for efficient photocatalytic hydrogen evolution
Journal of colloid and interface science
School of Engineering
Funding information is available in the Acknowledgements section
Crystalline carbon nitride is regarded as the new generation of emerging metal-free photocatalysts as opposed to polymeric carbon nitride (g-CN) because of its high crystalline structure and ultrahigh photocatalytic water splitting performance. However, further advances in crystalline g-CN are significantly restricted by the sluggish separation of charge carriers and limited active sites. In this study, we demonstrate the successful synthesis of heptazine-triazine donor-acceptor-based ultrathin crystalline g-CN nanosheets (UCCN) using a combined hot air exfoliation and molten salt (NaCl/KCl) copolymerization approach. The synergy of the donor-acceptor heterojunction and the ultrathin structure greatly accelerated the separation of the charge carriers and enriched the active sites. Accordingly, the superior hydrogen evolution activity and an ultrahigh apparent quantum efficiency of 73.6% at 420 nm under a natural photosynthetic environment were achieved by UCCN, positioning this material at the top among reported conjugated g-CN materials. This study provides a novel paradigm for the development of donor-acceptor-based ultrathin crystalline layered materials.