In this study, we investigate noble metal free photocatalytic water splitting on natural anatase single crystal facets and on wafer slices of the [001] plane before and after these surfaces have been modified by high pressure hydrogenation and hydrogen ion-implantation. We find that on the natural, intact low index planes, photocatalytic H2 evolution (in the absence of a noble metal co-catalyst) can only be achieved when the hydrogenation treatment is accompanied by the introduction of crystal damage, such as simple scratching and miscut in the crystal, or by implantation damage. X-ray reflectivity, Raman, and optical reflection measurements show that plain hydrogenation leads to a ≈ 1 nm thick black titania surface layer without activity, while a colorless, density modified, and ≈7 nm thick layer with broken crystal symmetry is present on the ion implanted surface. These results demonstrate that (i) the H-treatment of an intact anatase surface needs to be combined with defect formation for catalytic activation and (ii) activation does not necessarily coincide with the presence of black color.

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