A graphite oxide (GO) semiconductor photocatalyst with an apparent bandgap of 2.4–4.3 eV is synthesized by a modified Hummers' procedure. The as-synthesized GO photocatalyst has an interlayer spacing of 0.42 nm because of its moderate oxidation level. Under irradiation with UV or visible light, this GO photocatalyst steadily catalyzes H2 generation from a 20 vol % aqueous methanol solution and pure water. As the GO sheets extensively disperse in water, a cocatalyst is not required for H2 generation over the GO photocatalyst. During photocatalytic reaction, the GO loses some oxygen functional groups, leading to bandgap reduction and increased conductivity. This structural variation does not affect the stable H2 generation over the GO. The encouraging results presented in this study demonstrate the potential of graphitic materials as a medium for water splitting under solar illumination.
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