All-in-one synthesis of mesoporous silicon nanosheets from natural clay and their applicability to hydrogen evolution

Publication Type:
Journal Article
NPG Asia Materials, 2016, 8 (3)
Issue Date:
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Silicon nanosheets have attracted much attention owing to their novel electronic and optical properties and compatibility with existing silicon technology. However, a cost-effective and scalable technique for synthesizing these nanosheets remains elusive. Here, we report a novel strategy for producing silicon nanosheets on a large scale through the simultaneous molten-salt-induced exfoliation and chemical reduction of natural clay. The silicon nanosheets thus synthesized have a high surface area, are ultrathin (∼5 nm) and contain mesoporous structures derived from the oxygen vacancies in the clay. These advantages make the nanosheets a highly suitable photocatalyst with an exceptionally high activity for the generation of hydrogen from a water-methanol mixture. Further, when the silicon nanosheets are combined with platinum as a cocatalyst, they exhibit high activity in KOH (15.83 mmol H2 per s per mol Si) and excellent photocatalytic activity with respect to the evolution of hydrogen from a water-methanol mixture (723 μmol H2 per h per g Si).
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