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FexNi9-xS8 (x = 3-6) as potential photocatalysts for solar-driven hydrogen production?

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Tetzlaff, David 
Simon, Christopher 
Achilleos, Demetra S 
Smialkowski, Mathias 
Junge Puring, Kai 


The efficient reduction of protons by non-noble metals under mild conditions is a challenge for our modern society. Nature utilises hydrogenases, enzymatic machineries that comprise iron- and nickel- containing active sites, to perform the conversion of protons to hydrogen. We herein report a straightforward synthetic pathway towards well-defined particles of the bio-inspired material FexNi9-xS8, a structural and functional analogue of hydrogenase metal sulfur clusters. Moreover, the potential of pentlandites to serve as photocatalysts for solar-driven H2-production is assessed for the first time. The FexNi9-xS8 materials are visible light responsive (band gaps between 2.02 and 2.49 eV, depending on the pentlandite's Fe : Ni content) and display a conduction band energy close to the thermodynamic potential for proton reduction. Despite the limited driving force, a modest activity for photocatalytic H2 has been observed. Our observations show the potential for the future development of pentlandites as photocatalysts. This work provides a basis to explore powerful synergies between biomimetic chemistry and material design to unlock novel applications in solar energy conversion.



0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural), 0302 Inorganic Chemistry, 0912 Materials Engineering

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Faraday Discuss

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The Royal Society of Chemistry


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Christian Doppler Forschungsgesellschaft (unknown)
The authors acknowledge financial support of the Fonds of the Chemical Industry (Liebig grant to U.-P. A.), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Emmy Noether grant to U.-P. A., Cluster of Excellence RESOLV (EXC2033), AP242/2-1; AP242/6-1; MA 5392/7-1), the Fraunhofer Internal Programs under Grant No. Attract 097-602175 as well as the Christian Doppler Association (Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs, the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development) and OMV.