Isotope Effects in Plasmonic Photosynthesis

Sungju Yu, Prashant K. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The photoexcitation of plasmonic nanoparticles has been shown to drive multistep, multicarrier transformations, such as the conversion of CO2 into hydrocarbons. But for such plasmon-driven chemistry to be precisely understood and modeled, the critical photoinitiation step in the reaction cascade must be identified. We meet this goal by measuring H/D and 12C/13C kinetic isotope effects (KIEs) in plasmonic photosynthesis. In particular, we found that the substitution of H2O with D2O slows hydrocarbon production by a factor of 5–8. This primary H/D KIE leads to the inference that hole-driven scission of the O−H bond in H2O is a critical, limiting step in plasmonic photosynthesis. This study advances mechanistic understanding of light-driven chemical reactions on plasmonic nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22480-22483
Number of pages4
JournalAngewandte Chemie - International Edition
Issue number50
StatePublished - Dec 7 2020


  • CO reduction
  • catalysis
  • hot electrons
  • localized surface plasmon resonance
  • nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemistry(all)


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