The team around YU Xuefeng at the CAS Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) has developed a low-cost metal-free photocatalyst based on black phosphorus for effective photocatalysis. Using a simple ball-milling technique, the team converted red phosphorus and urea to black phosphorus and black phosphorus/CN complexes in large-scale, among which the material cost of black phosphorus in the photocatalyst was estimated to be just 0.016 RMB pear gram. By forming P-N bonds, black phosphorus and CN interacted to form a stable binary which showed broad absorption as well as effective charge separation, and possessed abundant active sites, giving rise to excellent photocatalytic performance. Without using a co-catalyst, the metal-free catalyst emitted H2 consistently at a rate as high as 786 μmol·h-1·g-1 and RhB was decomposed in merely 25 mins during visible light irradiation.

CAS news release, November 26, 2018