Photocatalytic H2 production attracts much attention and there are numerous semiconductors that are capable of this photochemical reaction. For example, two-dimensional perovskite niobate nanosheets prepared by the exfoliation of bulk layered AB2Nb3O10 (A = H, Rb, K, Cs; B = Ca, Pb, Sr) have attracted great interest. However, the exfoliation of niobates is a time-consuming process and the low yields restrict the mass preparation and applications of these exfoliated perovskite nanosheets.
Yuchao Hu and Liejin Guo, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China, have developed a high-powered ultrasonic method for the rapid and high-yielding exfoliation of HPb2Nb3O10 into (TBA/H)Pb2Nb3O10 (TBA = tetrabutylammonium) nanosheets. These nanosheets were used as a photocatalyst for H2 production from methanol solution under visible light irradiation and showed increased activity when compared with bulk HPb2Nb3O10. This enhanced performance is mainly because of a shortened migration distance for the photoexcited electrons.
The described ultrasonic-assisted exfoliation method could also be applied to the preparation of other niobate nanosheets.