Photosensitized H2 Evolution and NADPH Formation by Photosensitizer/Carbon Nitride Hybrid Nanoparticles

Wei Hai Chen, Zhixin Zhou, Guo Feng Luo, Ehud Neumann, Henri Baptiste Marjault, David Stone, Rachel Nechushtai, Itamar Willner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The broadband C3N4 semiconductor absorbs in the UV region, λ = 330-380 nm, a feature limiting its application for light-to-energy conversion. The unique surface adsorption properties of C3N4 allow, however, the binding of a photosensitizer, operating in the visible-solar spectrum to the surface of C3N4. Coupling of the energy levels of the photosensitizer with the energy levels of C3N4 allows effective photoinduced electron-transfer quenching and subsequent charge separation in the hybrid structures. Two methods to adsorb a photosensitizer on the C3N4 nanoparticles are described. One is exemplified by the adsorption of Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX on C3N4 using π-πinteractions. The second method utilizes the specific binding interactions of single-stranded nucleic acids on C3N4 and involves the binding of a Ru(II)-tris-bipyridine-modified nucleic acid on the C3N4 nanoparticles. Effective electron-transfer quenching of the photoexcited photosensitizers by C3N4 proceeds in the two hybrid systems. The two hybrid photosystems induce the effective photosensitized reduction of N,N′-dimethyl-4,4′-bipyridinium, MV2+, to MV+•, in the presence of Na2EDTA as a sacrificial electron donor. The generation of MV+• is ca. 5-fold higher as compared to the formation of MV+• in the presence of the photosensitizer alone (in the absence of C3N4). The effective generation of MV+• in the photosystems is attributed to the efficient quenching of the photosensitizers, followed by effective charge separation of the electrons in the conduction band of C3N4 and the holes in the oxidized photosensitizer. The subsequent transfer of the conduction-band electrons to MV2+ and the oxidation of Na2EDTA by the oxidized photosensitizers lead to the effective formation of MV+•. The photogenerated MV+• by the two hybrid photosystems is used to catalyze H2 evolution in the presence of Pt nanoparticle catalysts and to mediate the reduction of NADP+ to NADPH, in the presence of ferredoxin-NADP+ reductase, FNR. The ability to couple the photogenerated NADPH to drive NADP+-dependent biocatalytic transformations is demonstrated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)9121-9130
Number of pages10
JournalNano Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Chemical Society.


  • DNA
  • NAD(P)H regeneration
  • Ru(II)-tris-bipyridine
  • Zn(II)-protoporphyrin IX
  • biocatalyzed transformation
  • photosensitizer


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