Synthesis, characterization and visible-light-driven photoelectrochemical hydrogen evolution reaction of carbazole-containing conjugated polymers

Muhammad Mansha, Ibrahim Khan, Nisar Ullah, Ahsanulhaq Qurashi

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

82 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogen (H2) is one of the most important fuel candidates and its low-cost production would necessitate the development of efficient electrocatalysts. In this study, we report the synthesis and evaluation of two new carbazole-containing polymers as organic photoelectrochemical (PEC) catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). The synthesis of these new conjugated polymers, poly(N-(2-ethylhexyl)-3,6-carbazole-p-bisdodecyloxy-phenylene vinylene) (P1) and poly(N-(2-ethylhexyl)-3,6-carbazole-p-bis(2-ethylhexyloxy)-phenylene vinylene) (P2), was accomplished by the Horner–Emmons polymerization reaction and subsequently characterized by 1H NMR, FTIR, diffuse reflectance UV–vis spectroscopy (DR UV–vis), scanning electron microscope (SEM) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). The optical band gaps of P1 and P2, derived from the onset absorption edge, were found to be 2.10 and 2.14 eV, respectively. The chronoamperometric (CA) measurements revealed that the photo-current density generated at ∼0 V by P1 and P2, without the use of additional noble metal based cocatalysts or sacrificial electron donors, was −1.8 and −2.1 μA/cm2, respectively. The enhanced PEC performance of P2 was attributed due to its narrow band gap that enhanced light harvesting ability and the larger surface area which helped in minimizing charge recombination. The experimental observations were well supported by the drastic quenching of PL emission intensity of P2. The linear sweep voltammetry (LSV) measurements showed the onset potential at around −0.3 V for both polymers. The photocurrent density difference for P2 at −1.2 V reached to maximum value of 0.37 mA/cm2, amounting to ∼25% current enhancement under illumination. Long-term stability testing via CA measurements revealed that P2 was relatively more stable than P1, which warranted its potential as photocatalyst for solar water splitting. In addition, P1 and P2 are readily soluble in common organic solvents which make them potential candidates for photovoltaic devices application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10952-10961
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)
  • Low band gap polymer
  • Photoelectrocatalysis
  • Water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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