• electron transfer;
  • nanoparticles;
  • photochemistry;
  • ruthenium;
  • water splitting


Nanosecond laser flash photolysis has been used to investigate injection and back electron transfer from the complex [(Ru(bpy)2(4,4′-(PO3H2)2bpy)]2+ surface-bound to TiO2 (TiO2-RuII). The measurements were conducted under conditions appropriate for water oxidation catalysis by known single-site water oxidation catalysts. Systematic variations in average lifetimes for back electron transfer, <τbet>, were observed with changes in pH, surface coverage, incident excitation intensity, and applied bias. The results were qualitatively consistent with a model involving rate-limiting thermal activation of injected electrons from trap sites to the conduction band or shallow trap sites followed by site-to-site hopping and interfacial electron transfer, TiO2(e)-Ru3+[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]TiO2-Ru2+. The appearance of pH-dependent decreases in the efficiency of formation of TiO2-Ru3+ and in incident-photon-to-current efficiencies with the added reductive scavenger hydroquinone point to pH-dependent back electron transfer processes on both the sub-nanosecond and millisecond–microsecond time scales, which could be significant in limiting long-term storage of multiple redox equivalents.