Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a prototype, water-splitting (photo)catalyst, but its performance is limited by the large overpotential for the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). We report here a first-principles density functional theory study of the chemical dynamics of the first proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET), which is considered responsible for the large OER overpotential on TiO2. We use a periodic model of the TiO 2/water interface that includes a slab of anatase TiO2 and explicit water molecules, sample the solvent configurations by first principles molecular dynamics, and determine the energy profiles of the two electronic states involved in the electron transfer (ET) by hybrid functional calculations. Our results suggest that the first PCET is sequential, with the ET following the proton transfer. The ET occurs via an inner sphere process, which is facilitated by a state in which one electronic hole is shared by the two oxygen ions involved in the transfer.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry