TiO2 nanotube arrays modified with nanoparticles of platinum group metals (Pt, Pd, Ru): enhancement on photoelectrochemical performance

  • Fang Li
  • Haibao Huang
  • Guisheng Li
  • Dennis Y. C. LeungEmail author
Research Paper


Highly ordered TiO2 nanotube arrays (TiO2 NTs) were synthesized by anodization method using a titanium foil and further modified with nanoparticles (Ø = 2~10 nm) of three platinum group metals (that is, platinum, palladium, and ruthenium) through potentiostatic pulsed electrodeposition method to obtain the composite material. Compared with pure TiO2 NTs, all the three composite samples (M-TiO2 NTs, M = Pt, Pd, Ru) showed different enhancement effects on the light responses, as well as different photoelectrochemical performances. In this study, the performance of M-TiO2 NTs, which worked as photoanode and cathode, was investigated. Ru-TiO2 exhibited the best degradation yield (~ 85.8%) when applied as photoanode under visible light illumination, which indicated the platinum group metal could also be induced under visible irradiation, not just served as the co-catalyst. M-TiO2 NTs as cathode were evaluated under the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The three M-TiO2 NT electrodes showed an improved efficiency over pure TiO2 NTs, while Pt-TiO2 NTs performed even better (without any sacrificial agent) with higher Faradic efficiency than platinum electrode in the photoelectrocatalytic hydrogen production, which could be explained by the uniform and fine metal nanoparticles on the surface of TiO2 NTs to offer abundant active sites for the reaction.

Graphical abstract

In this paper, TiO2 nanotube arrays loaded with nanoparticles of platinum group metals have been explored on their enhancement of photoelectrocatalytic activity. Platinum group metals served as co-catalyst in the surface of TiO2 nanotubes and show great variations in different reactions.


TiO2 nanotube arrays Platinum group metal nanoparticles Photoelectrocatalysis Hydrogen production Water splitting 



The project is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme (No. 5156165015, No. N_HKU718/15), NSFC (21677179), Guangdong Special Fund for Science & Technology Development (Hong Kong Technology Cooperation Funding Scheme) (No. 2016A050503022, GHP/025/16GD&InP/272/16), and Innovation Platform Construction of Guangdong and Hong Kong (No. 2017B050504001).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11051_2018_4443_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1517 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of Hong KongHong KongChina
  2. 2.School of Environmental Science and EngineeringSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.College of Life and Environmental ScienceShanghai Normal UniversityShanghaiChina

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