Between photocatalysis and photosynthesis: Synchrotron spectroscopy methods on molecules and materials for solar hydrogen generation

Debajeet K. Bora, Yelin Hu, Sebastian Thiess, Selma Erat, Xuefei Feng, Sumanta Mukherjee, Giuseppino Fortunato, Nicolas Gaillard, Rita Toth, Krisztina Gajda-Schrantz, Wolfgang Drube, Michael Grätzel, Jinghua Guo, Junfa Zhu, Edwin C. Constable, D. D. Sarma, Hongxin Wang, Artur Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Energy research is to a large extent materials research, encompassing the physics and chemistry of materials, including their synthesis, processing toward components and design toward architectures, allowing for their functionality as energy devices, extending toward their operation parameters and environment, including also their degradation, limited life, ultimate failure and potential recycling. In all these stages, X-ray and electron spectroscopy are helpful methods for analysis, characterization and diagnostics for the engineer and for the researcher working in basic science. This paper gives a short overview of experiments with X-ray and electron spectroscopy for solar energy and water splitting materials and addresses also the issue of solar fuel, a relatively new topic in energy research. The featured systems are iron oxide and tungsten oxide as photoanodes, and hydrogenases as molecular systems. We present surface and sub-surface studies with ambient pressure XPS and hard X-ray XPS, resonant photoemission, light induced effects in resonant photoemission experiments and a photo-electrochemical in situ/operando NEXAFS experiment in a liquid cell, and nuclear resonant vibrational spectroscopy (NRVS).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-105
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena
Issue numberPART A
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2013



  • AP-XPS
  • Artificial photosynthesis
  • Bulk defects
  • Charge transfer
  • Hematite
  • Hole doping
  • Hydrogenase
  • NRVS
  • Photo-electrochemistry
  • Photocatalysis
  • Photoelectrochemistry
  • RIXS
  • Resonant photoemission
  • Solar fuels
  • Solar hydrogen
  • Surface defects
  • Tungsten oxide
  • VB-PES
  • Valence band
  • Water splitting
  • X-ray absorption
  • XAFS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Radiation
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

Cite this

Bora, D. K., Hu, Y., Thiess, S., Erat, S., Feng, X., Mukherjee, S., Fortunato, G., Gaillard, N., Toth, R., Gajda-Schrantz, K., Drube, W., Grätzel, M., Guo, J., Zhu, J., Constable, E. C., Sarma, D. D., Wang, H., & Braun, A. (2013). Between photocatalysis and photosynthesis: Synchrotron spectroscopy methods on molecules and materials for solar hydrogen generation. Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena, 190(PART A), 93-105.