Long-Term Characterization of Oxidation Processes in Graphitic Carbon Nitride Photocatalyst Materials via Electron Paramagnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Elizaveta Kobeleva, Ekaterina Shabratova, Adi Azoulay, Rowan W. MacQueen, Neeta Karjule, Menny Shalom, Klaus Lips, Joseph E. McPeak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Graphitic carbon nitride (gCN) materials have been shown to efficiently perform light-induced water splitting, carbon dioxide reduction, and environmental remediation in a cost-effective way. However, gCN suffers from rapid charge-carrier recombination, inefficient light absorption, and poor long-term stability which greatly hinders photocatalytic performance. To determine the underlying catalytic mechanisms and overall contributions that will improve performance, the electronic structure of gCN materials has been investigated using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy. Through lineshape analysis and relaxation behavior, evidence of two independent spin species were determined to be present in catalytically active gCN materials. These two contributions to the total lineshape respond independently to light exposure such that the previously established catalytically active spin system remains responsive while the newly observed, superimposed EPR signal is not increased during exposure to light. The time dependence of these two peaks present in gCN EPR spectra recorded sequentially in air over several months demonstrates a steady change in the electronic structure of the gCN framework over time. This light-independent, slowly evolving additional spin center is demonstrated to be the result of oxidative processes occurring as a result of exposure to the environment and is confirmed by forced oxidation experiments. This oxidized gCN exhibits lower H2 production rates and indicates quenching of the overall gCN catalytic activity over longer reaction times. A general model for the newly generated spin centers is given and strategies for the alleviation of oxidative products within the gCN framework are discussed in the context of improving photocatalytic activity over extended durations as required for future functional photocatalytic device development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6475
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023


  • EPR spectroscopy
  • carbon nitride
  • electronic relaxation
  • electronic structure characterization
  • graphitic materials
  • light-dependent EPR
  • oxidation processes
  • photocatalysis
  • power saturation analysis
  • semiconductor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Organic Chemistry


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