A system based on new materials has proven to be able to perform not one, but two types of photocatalysis simultaneously in water: hydrogen production and cleaning of pollutants. Metal-organics (MOF) are a class of materials that demonstrate structural versatility, high porosity and optical and electronic properties, all of which make them promising candidates for a variety of applications, including gas capture and separation, sensors and photocatalysis.
The MOF developed at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (Switzerland) contains nickel phosphide (Ni2P), available in abundance and cheaply, and found to perform efficient photocatalysis under visible light, which represents 44% of the solar spectrum.
The first type of photocatalysis, the production of hydrogen, involves a reaction called «water division». As the name suggests, the reaction divides water molecules into their components: hydrogen and oxygen. One of the biggest applications here is to use hydrogen for fuel cells, which are power supply devices that are used in a variety of technologies today, including satellites and space shuttles.
The second type of photocatalysis is known as «degradation of organic pollutants,» which refers to processes that break down contaminants present in water. The scientists investigated this innovative photocatalytic system based on MOF to the degradation of the toxic dye rhodamine B, commonly used to simulate organic pollutants.