A research team comprising scientists from Tohoku University, RIKEN, the University of Tokyo, Chiba University and University College London have discovered a new chemical reaction pathway on titanium dioxide (TiO2), an important photocatalytic material. Lead author Prof. Taketoshi Minato (Tohoku Univ. and RIKEN, currently Kyoto University) observed that “The new reaction pathway could be exploited in nanoscale switching devices and hydrogen storage technology. For instance, electric fields could be used to extract hydrogen from a TiO2-based storage device.”
The reaction mechanism, reported in a paper in the journal ACS Nano, involves the application of an electric field that narrows the width of the reaction barrier, thereby allowing hydrogen atoms to tunnel away from the surface.
This opens the way for the manipulation of the atomic-scale transport channels of hydrogen, which could be important in hydrogen storage.
Taketoshi Minato, Seiji Kajita, Chi-Lun Pang, Naoki Asao, Yoshinori Yamamoto, Takashi Nakayama, Maki Kawai, and Yousoo Kim (2015) “Tunneling Desorption of Single Hydrogen on the Surface of Titanium Dioxide” ACS Nano doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b01607