Photo-electro catalysis and surface science of metal oxides

Short Bio

Hicham Idriss received his BSc, MSc, PhD and Habilitation (Dr. Science) from the University of Strasbourg (France). Prior to joining KIT, he was Fellow at SABIC Corporate R&D (KAUST), Saudi Arabia (2011-2021), Aberdeen Energy Futures Chair and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University (UK) (2008-2011), Associate Professor at the Department of Chemistry, the University of Auckland, New Zealand (1995-2008).  His main research area is in catalysis and surface reactions.  In the last two decades, he has focused on hydrogen production from renewables.

Hicham is also Professor (Hon.) at the Department of Chemistry, University College London, UK

Emeritus & Honorary staff | Chemistry - UCL – University College London


1.     Hydrogen production from water

Fundamental and applied studies of metal/metal oxides single crystals and powder for energy related catalytic processes such as hydrogen from renewable sources and circular systems.  In particular metal/metal oxide interface with multijunction solar cells, as an integrated system, provides a unique system for water splitting to molecular hydrogen and oxygen with solar to hydrogen efficiencies approaching 20%.

Demonstration of 28% solar to hydrogen efficiency and evaluation of its economic importance. 

M.A. Khan, I. Al-Shankiti, A. Ziani, H. Idriss, Sustainable Energy and Fuel. 5, 1085-1094 (2021)!divAbstract

Towards large scale hydrogen production from water, what have we learned and what are the main hurdles to cross for commercialization. 

H. Idriss, Energy Technology, 9, 2000843 (2021)

A Stable Integrated Photoelectrochemical Reactor for H2 Production from Water Attains a Solar-to-Hydrogen Efficiency of 18% at 15 Suns and 13% at 207 Suns. M.A. Khan, I. Al-Shankiti, A. Ziani, N. Wehbe, H. Idriss , Angewandte Chemie, Int. Ed. 59, 14802–14808 (2020).

2.     Fundamental studies of the surface reactions of CeO2

The potential of CeO2 as an epoxidation catalyst is studied for the reaction of propylene with H2O2 by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy and temperature programmed desorption (TPD). It demonstrated room temperature activation of adsorbed hydrogen peroxide and gas phase propylene, producing adsorbed C3H6O most likely through Eley-Riedel (E-R) mechanism.

The reaction of hydrogen peroxide and propylene to propylene oxide on the surface of CeO2: An in situ FTIR spectroscopy and temperature programmed desorption study.

S. Bashir and H. Idriss J. Chem. Physics (Invited), 152, 044712 (2020).


IR spectra of (a) propylene oxide during the reaction of propylene with adsorbed H2O2 on CeO2 (b) propylene oxide in the gas phase and under vacuum compared to that of the reaction product observed in (a)

3.     Actinide oxides

Study of the surfaces of the oxides of actinides.  Their unique orbital symmetry and non-negligible relativistic effect on their electronic configuration is poised to lead to specific structure-sensitivity relationships in redox chemical reactions not encountered in transition metal oxides.  These when coupled with plasmonic resonance of metal clusters and particles provide a prototype to study electron transfer reactions between the U5f and Au5d bands, triggered by photonic and thermal energies.


(a) Energy levels of the optical and electronic band gaps of UO2 superimposed on them the expected Au5d/6s orbital levels of a Au cluster. (b) Simulated Electric Field, EF (XY plane), at the interface of TiO2 on top of 4 nm Au thin film, the scale bar shows the EF intensity (from Khan et al. Catalysis Letters 147 (4) 811 (2017)





Publications (since September 2021):

Monitoring the reduction of UO3 thin film by hydrogen atoms using valence level spectroscopy.  Correlating the U5f1 signal to surface hydroxyls.

G. El Jamal, T. Gouder, R. Eloirdi, M. Jonson, H. Idriss*. 

Frontiers in Fuels. (accepted Nov. 21, 2023) In press.


Plasmonic-assisted water gas shift reaction of gold particles on TiO2.

K. Wahab, K. Mudiyanselage, H. Idriss*.

Catalysts. 13, 1444 (1-16) (2023)


Monitoring the lifetime of photoexcited electrons in a fresh and bulk reduced rutile TiO2 single crystal.

M. Al-Amoudi, K. Katsiev, H. Idriss*. 

J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 14, 9238−9244 (2023)


UV Photoelectron Spectroscopic study of UO2, U2O5 and UO3 exposed to H2O under Ultra High Vacuum Conditions. Estimating the Radical Character of Surface Bound Hydroxyl Groups.

G. El Jamal, T. Gouder*, R. Eloirdi, H. Idriss, M. Jonson.

J. Phys. Chem. C, 127, 29, 14222–14231 (2023)


Overcoming the pressure and materials gap in heterogeneous catalysis – a combined UHV, in-situ and operando study using infrared spectroscopy

L. Caulfield, E. Sauter, H. Idriss, Y. Wang*, C. Wöll*. 

J. Phys. Chem. C, 127, 29, 14023–14029 (2023)

Kinetics of Glycerol Photo-reactions over Ag-Pd/TiO2 at different partial pressures of oxygen

K. Wahab, H. Idriss*.

Int. J. Hydrogen Energy. (2023)


On the reduction of CO2 to chemicals

H. Idriss

Deutschen Bunsen Gesellschaft für Physikalische Chemie, 2023/5, 78-79 (2023)


Hydrogen production from water using thermal and photo-driven systems. An overview of research activity on catalysts-based multi-junction solar cells.

H. Idriss

Chapter in “Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production for Sustainable Energy”; Alberto Puga (Editor);

ISBN: 978-3-527-34983-8; Wiley (2023)

Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production for Sustainable Energy | Wiley


MOFs for energy conversion and storage through water electrolysis reactions

Chapter 10 in “Reticular Chemistry and Applications, Metal-Organic Frameworks

Edited by: Belmabkhout & Cordova; De Gruyter STEM. (2023)

M. H. Alkordi , R. R. Haikal , W. A. El-Mehalmey, H. Idriss


Identification of Intermediates in the Reaction Pathway of SO2 on the CaO surface: From Physisorption to Sulfite to Sulfate,

N. Schewe, F. Maleki, G. Di Liberto, G. Pacchioni, H. Idriss, C. Wöll, Chem. Eur. e202203956 (1 of 5) (2023)


Study of the kinetics of reduction of IrO2 on TiO2 (anatase) by temperature-programmed reduction.

S. Batubara, M. Alrushaid, M. A. Nadeem, H. Idriss*, Inorganics 11(2), 66 (2023)

Inorganics | Free Full-Text | Study of the Kinetics of Reduction of IrO2 on TiO2 (Anatase) by Temperature-Programmed Reduction (


Thermal and photon effects on the reaction of H2 and O2 to water over Ag–Pd/TiO2

A. K. Wahab, M. A. Nadeem, H. Idriss

International Journal of Hydrogen Energy (2022)


Effect of gold loading on time-resolved ps photoluminescence of ZnO

A. Ziani, S. Al-Taweel, M. A. Nadeem, H. Idriss

The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 126 (38), 16148–16157 (2022)


A computational study of the interaction of oxygenates with the surface of rutile TiO2(110).  Structural and electronic trends.

C. Rohmann, H. Idriss

The Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter (JPCM) 34, 154002 (2022)


Electron transfer from a semiconductor to a metal and its implication on photocatalysis for hydrogen production

Y. M. Alsalik, K. Katsiev, H. Idriss

The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 126 (36), 15184-15190 (2022)


Oxygen vacancies role in thermally driven and photon driven catalytic reactions

H. Idriss

Chem. Catalysis 2 (7), Pages 1549-1560 (2022)


The merit and the context of hydrogen production from water and its effect on global CO2 emission

H. Idriss 

Catalysts 12 (2), 231 (2022)


Direct visualization of a gold Nanoparticle electron trapping effect

O. B. J. Williams, B. Baek, G. T. Harrison, K. Katsiev, G. Thornton, H. Idriss

Journal of the American Chemical Society 144 (2) 1034–1044 (2022)


N2O adsorption and photochemistry on ceria surfaces.

C. Yang, Y. Cao, P. N. Pleßow, J. Wang, A. Nefedov, S. Heißler, F. Studt, Y. Wang, H. Idriss, T.G. Mayerhöfer, C. Wöll 

The Journal of Physical Chemistry C 126 (4), 2253-2263 (2022)


A study of CexFe1-xO2 as a reducible oxide for the thermal hydrogen production from water.

S. Al-Taweel, M. A. Nadeem, H. Idriss 

Energy Technology 10 (1), 2100491 (1-9) (2021)


Extracting turn over frequencies of electron transfer in heterogeneous catalysis.  A study of IrO2-TiO2 anatase for water oxidation using Ce4+ cations.

M. Alrushaid, K. A. Wahab, M. A. Nadeem, H. Idriss 

J. Catalysts 11 (9), 1030 (2021) (Special issue for the 85th birthday of Gerald Ertl, Journal cover).