Catalysts based on platinum group metals have been a major focus of the chemical industry for decades. We show that plasmonic photocatalysis can transform a thermally unreactive, earth-abundant transition metal into a catalytically active site under illumination. Fe active sites in a Cu-Fe antenna-reactor complex achieve efficiencies very similar to Ru for the photocatalytic decomposition of ammonia under ultrafast pulsed illumination. When illuminated with light-emitting diodes rather than lasers, the photocatalytic efficiencies remain comparable, even when the scale of reaction increases by nearly three orders of magnitude. This result demonstrates the potential for highly efficient, electrically driven production of hydrogen from an ammonia carrier with earth-abundant transition metals.
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