Persistence and Evolution of Materials Features During Catalysis Using Topological and Trivial Polymorphs of MoTe2

Rebecca J. Katz, Yanglin Zhu, Zhiqiang Mao, Raymond E. Schaak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Topological materials have high carrier mobilities that can be maintained in the presence of crystal structure defects, which is useful for catalysis. Topological materials have been shown to be active catalysts, but it remains unclear if topology persists during catalysis. We studied the physical and chemical evolution of MoTe2 during photo- and electrocatalytic hydrogen production. This material offers a unique opportunity to directly compare a trivial semiconductor, 2H-MoTe2, with a topological insulator, 1T’-MoTe2, with comparable compositions, crystal structures, and surface roughnesses. We observed no major bulk changes in the materials after catalysis. The surfaces of the catalysts were significantly roughened and oxidized, but the carrier mobility of the topological phase remained high. These results suggest that topology persists during, and may be advantageous for, catalysis, and provide rationale for considering topology in the search for water-splitting catalysts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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