Photocatalytic activity is determined by the transport property of photoexcited carriers from the interior to the surface of photocatalysts. Because the carrier dynamics is influenced by a space charge layer (SCL) in the subsurface region, an understanding of the effect of the potential barrier of the SCL on the carrier behavior is essential. Here we have investigated the relaxation time of the photoexcited carriers on single-crystal anatase and rutile TiO2 surfaces by time-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and found that carrier recombination, taking a nanosecond time scale at room temperature, is strongly influenced by the barrier height of the SCL. Under the flat-band condition, which is realized in nanometer-sized photocatalysts, the carriers have a longer lifetime on the anatase surface than the rutile one, naturally explaining the higher photocatalytic activity for anatase than rutile.
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