TiO2 is an important technological material with widespread applications in photocatalysis, photovoltaics and self-cleaning surfaces. Excess electrons from intrinsic defects, dopants and photoexcitation play a key role in the properties of TiO2 that are relevant to its energy-related applications. The picture of excess and photoexcited electrons in TiO2 is based on the polaron model, where the electron forms a localized state that is stabilized by an accompanying lattice distortion. Here, we focus on excess and photoexcited electrons in anatase, the TiO2 polymorph most relevant to photocatalysis and solar energy conversion. For anatase, evidence of both small and large electron polarons has been reported in the literature. In addition, several studies have revealed a remarkable dependence of the photocatalytic activity of anatase on the crystal surface. After an overview of experimental studies, we briefly discuss recent progress in the theoretical description of polaronic states in TiO2, and finally present a more detailed account of our computational studies on the trapping and dynamics of excess electrons near the most common anatase surfaces and aqueous interfaces. The results of these studies provide a bridge between surface science experiments under vacuum conditions and observations of crystal-face-dependent photocatalysis on anatase, and support the idea that optimization of the ratio between different anatase facets can help enhance the photocatalytic activity of this material.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- excess electrons
- metal oxides