Hot-Electron-Mediated Surface Chemistry: Toward Electronic Control of Catalytic Activity

Jeong Young Park, Sun Mi Kim, Hyosun Lee, Ievgen I. Nedrygailov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Conspectus Energy dissipation at surfaces and interfaces is mediated by excitation of elementary processes, including phonons and electronic excitation, once external energy is deposited to the surface during exothermic chemical processes. Nonadiabatic electronic excitation in exothermic catalytic reactions results in the flow of energetic electrons with an energy of 1-3 eV when chemical energy is converted to electron flow on a short (femtosecond) time scale before atomic vibration adiabatically dissipates the energy (in picoseconds). These energetic electrons that are not in thermal equilibrium with the metal atoms are called "hot electrons". The detection of hot electron flow under atomic or molecular processes and understanding its role in chemical reactions have been major topics in surface chemistry. Recent studies have demonstrated electronic excitation produced during atomic or molecular processes on surfaces, and the influence of hot electrons on atomic and molecular processes.We outline research efforts aimed at identification of the intrinsic relation between the flow of hot electrons and catalytic reactions. We show various strategies for detection and use of hot electrons generated by the energy dissipation processes in surface chemical reactions and photon absorption. A Schottky barrier localized at the metal-oxide interface of either catalytic nanodiodes or hybrid nanocatalysts allows hot electrons to irreversibly transport through the interface. We show that the chemicurrent, composed of hot electrons excited by the surface reaction of CO oxidation or hydrogen oxidation, correlates well with the turnover rate measured separately by gas chromatography. Furthermore, we show that hot electron flows generated on a gold thin film by photon absorption (or internal photoemission) can be amplified by localized surface plasmon resonance. The influence of hot charge carriers on the chemistry at the metal-oxide interface are discussed for the cases of Au, Ag, and Pt nanoparticles on oxide supports and Pt-CdSe-Pt nanodumbbells. We show that the accumulation or depletion of hot electrons on metal nanoparticles, in turn, can also influence catalytic reactions. Mechanisms suggested for hot-electron-induced chemical reactions on a photoexcited plasmonic metal are discussed. We propose that the manipulation of the flow of hot electrons by changing the electrical characteristics of metal-oxide and metal-semiconductor interfaces can give rise to the intriguing capability of tuning the catalytic activity of hybrid nanocatalysts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2475-2483
Number of pages9
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 16 Jul 2015


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