Nitrogen-substituted TiO2: investigation on the photocatalytic activity in the visible light range
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Nitrogen-doped titanium oxides are attractive materials for the degradation of organic pollutants in water due to their photocatalytic activity in the visible light range. The evolution of the photocatalytic properties was studied on a number of TiOxNy powder samples where x varied from 2 to 0 (TiO2 to TiN) through increasing the nitrogen content (y = 0–1). X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy showed that an anatase type TiOxNy was obtained at low nitrogen contents (<2 wt%). With increasing nitrogen content a structural transition from anatase to cubic TiN was observed. Electron spin resonance measurements of the TiOxNy samples confirmed the presence of unpaired electrons and defects for the TiOxNy materials with low nitrogen content (<2 wt%). The photo-induced activity of the TiOxNy materials was evaluated under VIS illumination of solutions containing methylene blue as an organic probe. The TiOxNy samples exhibited an improved photocatalytic activity under visible light illumination compared to TiO2 at nitrogen levels lower than 2 wt%. A photocatalytic activity could not be detected at nitrogen levels higher than 10 wt% and after conversion of the TiOxNy into the cubic phase. Optimum photocatalytic activity in the visible range can be achieved at nitrogen levels lower than 2 wt% for TiOxNy materials.
KeywordsTiO2 Electron Spin Resonance Methylene Blue Photocatalytic Activity Nitrogen Content
Financial support from the bilateral program Procope (2006–2007) between Egide-French Foreign Affairs and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is gratefully acknowledged.