Surface-Ligand "liquid" to "crystalline" Phase Transition Modulates the Solar H2Production Quantum Efficiency of CdS Nanorod/Mediator/Hydrogenase Assemblies

Wenxing Yang, Gregory E. Vansuch, Yawei Liu, Tao Jin, Qiliang Liu, Aimin Ge, Monica L.K. Sanchez, Dominik K. Haja, Michael W.W. Adams, R. Brian Dyer, Tianquan Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study reports how the length of capping ligands on a nanocrystal surface affects its interfacial electron transfer (ET) with surrounding molecular electron acceptors, and consequently, impact the H2 production of a biotic-Abiotic hybrid artificial photosynthetic system. Specifically, we study how the H2 production efficiency of a hybrid system, combining CdS nanorods (NRs), [NiFe] hydrogenase, and redox mediators (propyl-bridged 2,2′-bipyridinium, PDQ2+), depends on the alkyl chain length of mercaptocarboxylate ligands on the NR surface. We observe a minor decrease of the quantum yield for H2 production from 54 ± 6 to 43 ± 2% when varying the number of methylene units in the ligands from 2 to 7. In contrast, an abrupt decrease of the yield was observed from 43 ± 2 to 4 ± 1% when further increasing n from 7 to 11. ET studies reveal that the intrinsic ET rates from the NRs to the electron acceptor PDQ2+ are all within 108-109 s-1 regardless of the length of the capping ligands. However, the number of adsorbed PDQ2+ molecules on NR surfaces decreases dramatically when n ≥ 10, with the saturating number changing from 45 ± 5 to 0.3 ± 0.1 for n = 2 and 11, respectively. These results are not consistent with the commonly perceived exponential dependence of ET rates on the ligand length. Instead, they can be explained by the change of the accessibility of NR surfaces to electron acceptors from a disordered "liquid"phase at n < 7 to a more ordered "crystalline"phases at n > â 7. These results highlight that the order of capping ligands is an important design parameter for further constructing nanocrystal/molecular assemblies in broad nanocrystal-based applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35614-35625
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug 5
Externally publishedYes


  • abiotic-biotic interface
  • electron transfer
  • ligand configuration
  • mercaptocarboxylate
  • nanocrystal
  • self-Assembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)


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