Artificial photosynthesis - 4-Aminobenzoic acids effect on charge transfer in a photo catalytic system
Abstract: Artificial photosynthesis is used to harvest solar energy and store it in the form of chemical bonds. The system of interest in this study does this by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas through a plasmon assisted process, collective oscillations from free electron gas. This is a renewable way to store energy that could be used as an alternative to fossil based fuel. In this study, a small part of this photo catalytic system is studied, namely the interaction between plasmonically active silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) transferring photo-excited electrons via a linker molecule, 4-aminobenzoic acid (pABA). The pABA linker molecule transfers charge from the Ag surface to a semiconductor and a catalyst performing the water splitting. The pABA can bind in different ways onto the Ag-surface and the aim of this study is to examine which bond is strongest and which best enables charge transfer. To this purpose three systems where simulated quantum mechanically using a supercomputer. The total free energy of the systems was computed and compared. Out of the three studied binding sites, the hollow-site bond (pABA binding to three silver atoms) was found to have the lowest energy, meaningit's the strongest of the possible bonds. Additionally it was found that the band gap (the energy needed to transfer charge) for the pABA decreased when bound to the Ag-surface. The hollow-site bound pABA also had the smallest band gap, meaning it requires the least energy to transfer a charge and should therefore be the best bond fitted for the photo catalytic system.
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