Quantum chemical elucidation of the mechanism for hydrogenation of TiO 2 anatase crystals

P. Raghunath, W. F. Huang, Ming-Chang Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

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37 Scopus citations


Hydrogenation of TiO2 is relevant to hydrogen storage and water splitting. We have carried out a detailed mechanistic study on TiO2 hydrogenation through H and/or H2 diffusion from the surface into subsurface layers of anatase TiO2 (101) by periodic density functional theory calculations implementing on-site Coulomb interactions (DFT + U). Both H atoms and H2 molecules can migrate from the crystal surface into TiO2 near subsurface layer with 27.8 and 46.2 kcal/mol energy barriers, respectively. The controlling step for the former process is the dissociative adsorption of H2 on the surface which requires 47.8 kcal/mol of energy barrier. Both hydrogen incorporation processes are expected to be equally favorable. The barrier energy for H2 migration from the first layer of the subsurface Osub1 to the 2nd layer of the subsurface oxygen Osub2 requires only 6.6 kcal. The presence of H atoms on the surface and inside the subsurface layer tends to promote both H and H2 penetration into the subsurface layer by reducing their energy barriers, as well as to prevent the escape of the H2 from the cage by increasing its escaping barrier energy. The H2 molecule inside a cage can readily dissociate and form 2HO-species exothermically (ΔH = -31.0 kcal/mol) with only 26.2 kcal/mol barrier. The 2HO-species within the cage may further transform into H2O with a 22.0 kcal/mol barrier and 19.3 kcal/mol exothermicity relative to the caged H2 molecule. H 2O formation following the breaking of Ti-O bonds within the cage may result in the formation of O-vacancies and surface disordering as observed experimentally under a high pressure and moderately high temperature condition. According to density of states analysis, the projected density of states of the interstitial H, H2, and H2O appear prominently within the TiO2 band gap; in addition, the former induces a shift of the band gap position notably towards the conduction band. The thermochemistry for formation of the most stable sub-surface species (2HO and H2O) has been predicted. These results satisfactorily account for the photo-catalytic activity enhancement observed experimentally by hydrogenation at high temperatures and high pressures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154705
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number15
StatePublished - 21 Apr 2013


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