Catalysis Letters

, Volume 148, Issue 10, pp 3158–3164 | Cite as

Cobalt(II)–Salen Complexes for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production in Noble Metal-Free Molecular Systems

  • Cheng-Bo LiEmail author
  • Peng Gong
  • Ying Yang
  • Hong-Yan Wang


Developing cost-effective hydrogen-production systems is always appealing in order to satisfy the future energy request. Here, two Co(II)–salen complexes 1 and 2 were firstly introduced into homogeneous photocatalytic hydrogen-evolution systems. Based on these two cobalt complexes, we developed noble-metal-free hydrogen production systems using xanthene dyes [such as Disodium salts of Eosin Y (EY2−), Rose Bengal (RB2−) and Fluorescein (Fl2−)] as photosensitizers and trimethylamine (TEA) as sacrificial donor. Complex 1 presented the best catalytic performance for hydrogen production with a TON of 319 based on catalyst within 9 h irradiation, which is superior to other cobalt complexes in noble-metal-free systems. UV–Vis spectra studies demonstrate that EY2− suffered quick decomposition, especially under the presence of complex 1, which should be responsible for hydrogen-production deactivation. The thermodynamically favorable photo-induced electron transfer from 3*EY2− to complex 1 was supported by investigations involving fluorescence quenching and cyclic voltammetry studies. However, the immediate color change (within seconds) as the hydrogen production systems exposed under the irradiation indicates that EY2− firstly suffered dehalogenation which functions as the real active dyes.

Graphical Abstract


Photocatalysis Hydrogen production Noble-metal-free Molecular system 



We are grateful to the funding support from Shaanxi Provincial Education Department (No 15JK1708), the Science Foundation of Northwest University (No 14NW12), Shannxi Provincial Science & Technology Department (No 2017JQ2012), China Scholarship Council and Top-rated Discipline construction scheme of Shaanxi higher education.

Supplementary material

10562_2018_2509_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1007 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1006 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheng-Bo Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peng Gong
    • 1
  • Ying Yang
    • 1
  • Hong-Yan Wang
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Synthetic and Natural Functional Molecule Chemistry of the Ministry of Education, College of Chemistry and Materials ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringShaanxi Normal UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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