Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Low amount of Au nanoparticles deposited ZnO nanorods heterojunction photocatalysts for efficient degradation of p-nitrophenol

  • 12 Accesses


By chemical precipitation of Au nanoparticles on the ZnO nanorods, the heterostructures were successfully obtained. The structures were investigated by several methods and it was revealed that with the increase of the Au precursor, the size of Au nanoparticles was increased and the interaction between Au nanoparticle and ZnO nanorod was also confirmed. The performance of the photodegradation of p-nitrophenol suggested that the activity was related with the amount of Au nanoparticles in Au/ZnO heterostructure to a great extent. It was suggested that by taking advantage of the one dimension ZnO nanorods with the effect of aspect ratio and surface defects as well as the local surface plasma resonance adsorption of Au nanoparticles, the heterostructures demonstrated an ideal activity under visible light for the disposal of low concentration of organic pollutants, suggesting a potential application in environmental remediation.

By taking advantage of one dimension ZnO nanorod with the effect of aspect ratio and surface defects as well as the local surface plasma resonance adsorption of Au nanoparticles, the Au nanoparticles/ZnO nanorods heterostructures were synthesized and demonstrated an ideal activity under visible light for the degradation of low concentration of organic pollutants.


  • The Au nanoparticle/ZnO nanorod was synthesized.

  • A large increase of photoactivity was observed due to the synergistic effect of Au.

  • The Au/ZnO demonstrated a potential application in environmental remediation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10


  1. 1.

    Lefebvre O, Moletta R (2006) Treatment of organic pollution in industrial saline wastewater: a literature review. Water Res 40:3671–3682

  2. 2.

    Bai L, Zhang XL, Ding ZJ, Wang XC, Huang YJ, Palanisamy K (2019) One-pot synthesis of Ag nanoparticles/ZnO nanorods heterostructures for organic dyes decoloring. J Taiwan Instit Chem Eng 103:118–125

  3. 3.

    Chauhan N, Singh V, Kumar S, Kumari M, Sirohi K (2019) Preparation of silver and nitrogen codoped mesoporous zinc oxide nanoparticles by evaporation induced self assembly process to study their photocatalytic activity. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-019-04969-6

  4. 4.

    Wu JH, Shao HQ, Luo XH, Xu HJ, Wang AJ (2019) Pd nanocones supported on g–C3N4: an efficient photocatalyst for boosting catalytic reduction of hexavalent chromium under visible–light irradiation. Appl Surf Sci 471:935–942

  5. 5.

    Ceriani E, Marotta E, Shapoval V, Favaro G, Paradisi C (2018) Complete mineralization of organic pollutants in water by treatment with air non–thermal plasma. Chem Eng J 337:567–575

  6. 6.

    Tang J, He JG, Xin XD, Hu HZ, Liu TT (2018) Biosurfactants enhanced heavy metals removal from sludge in the electrokinetic treatment. Chem Eng J 334:2579–2592

  7. 7.

    Cheng L, Xiang QJ, Liao YL, Zhang HW (2018) CdS–based photocatalysts. Energy Environ Sci 11:1362–1391

  8. 8.

    Herrmann JM (1999) Heterogeneous photocatalysis: fundamentals and applications to the removal of various types of aqueous pollutants. Catal Today 53:115–129

  9. 9.

    Ranjith R, Renganathan V, Chen SM, Selvan NS, Rajam PS (2019) Green synthesis of reduced graphene oxide supported TiO2/Co3O4 nanocomposite for photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue and crystal violet. Ceram Inter 45:12926–12933

  10. 10.

    Padhi DK, Panigrahi TK, Parida K, Singh SKO, Mishra PM (2017) Green synthesis of Fe3O4/RGO nanocomposite with enhanced photocatalytic performance for Cr(VI) reduction, phenol degradation, and antibacterial activity. ACS Sustain Chem Eng 51:10551–10562

  11. 11.

    Kumar SG, Rao KSRK (2017) Comparison of modification strategies towards enhanced charge carrier separation and photocatalytic degradation activity of metal oxide semiconductors (TiO2, WO3 and ZnO). Appl Surf Sci 391:124–148

  12. 12.

    Chen HP, Chen N, Gao Y, Feng CP (2018) Photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue by magnetically recoverable Fe3O4/Ag6Si2O7 under simulated visible light. Powder Technol 326:247–254

  13. 13.

    Bai L, Zheng SB, Li ZR, Wang XC, Guo Y, Ye LQ, Mao J (2018) Design of Ag–decorated ZnO concave nanocubes using ZIF–8 with dual functional catalytic ability for decoloring dyes. CrystEngComm 20:2980–2988

  14. 14.

    Lee KM, Lai CW, Ngai KS, Juan JC (2016) Recent developments of zinc oxide based photocatalyst in water treatment technology: a review. Water Res 88:428–448

  15. 15.

    Qu X, Yang R, Tong F, Zhao Y, Wang MH (2018) Hierarchical ZnO microstructures decorated with Au nanoparticles for enhanced gas sensing and photocatalytic properties. Powder Technol 330:259–265

  16. 16.

    Wang J, Xia Y, Dong Y, Chen RS, Xiang L, Komarneni S (2016) Defect–rich ZnO nanosheets of high surface area as an efficient visible–light photocatalyst. Appl Catal B Environ 192:8–16

  17. 17.

    Xia Y, Wang J, Chen R, Zhou D, Xiang L (2016) A review on the fabrication of hierarchical ZnO nanostructures for photocatalysis application. Crystal 6:148

  18. 18.

    Shi RX, Yang P, Song XL, Wang JP, Che QD, Zhang AY (2016) ZnO flower: self–assembly growth from nanosheets with exposed {11¯00} facet, white emission, and enhanced photocatalysis. Appl Surf Sci 366:506–513

  19. 19.

    Bora T, Sathe P, Laxman K, Dobretsov S, Dutta J (2017) Defect engineered visible light active ZnO nanorods for photocatalytic treatment of water. Catal Today 248:1–18

  20. 20.

    Ong CB, Ng LY, Mohammad AW (2018) A review of ZnO nanoparticles as solar photocatalysts: synthesis, mechanisms and applications. Renew Sust Energy Rev 81:536–551

  21. 21.

    Zhang XY, Qin JQ, Xue YN, Yu PF, Zhang B, Wang LM, Liu R (2014) Effect of aspect ratio and surface defects on the photocatalytic activity of ZnO nanorods. Sci Rep. 4:4596

  22. 22.

    Aydoghmish SM, Hassanzadeh-Tabrizi SA, Saffar-Teluri (2019) A facile synthesis and investigation of NiO–ZnO–Ag nanocomposites as efficient photocatalysts for degradation of methylene blue dye. Ceram Inter 45:14934–14942

  23. 23.

    Koppalaa S, Xia Y, Zhang LB, Peng JH, Chen Z, Xu L (2019) Hierarchical ZnO/Ag nanocomposites for plasmon-enhanced visible-light photocatalytic performance. Ceram Inter 45:15116–15121

  24. 24.

    Vaiano V, Matarangolo M, Murci JJ, Rojas H, Navío JA, Hidalgo MC (2018) Enhanced photocatalytic removal of phenol from aqueous solutions using ZnO modified with Ag. Appl Catal B Environ 225:197–206

  25. 25.

    Fernando JFS, Shortell MP, Firestein KL, Zhang C, Larionov KV, Popov ZI, Sorokin PB, Bourgeois L, Waclawik ER (2018) Photocatalysis with Pt–Au–ZnO and Au–ZnO hybrids: effect of charge accumulation and discharge properties of metal nanoparticles. Langmuir 34:7334–7345

  26. 26.

    Reddy KH, Martha S, Parida KM (2018) Erratic charge transfer dynamics of Au/ZnTiO3 nanocomposites under UV and visible light irradiation and their related photocatalytic activities. Nanoscale 10:18540–18554

  27. 27.

    Cheng B, Samulski ET (2004) Hydrothermal synthesis of one–dimensional ZnO nanostructures with different aspect ratios. Chem Commun 0:986–987

  28. 28.

    Hvolbæk B, Janssens TVW, Clausen BS, Falsig H, Christensen CH, Nørskov JK (2007) Catalytic activity of Au nanoparticles. Nano Today 2:14–18

  29. 29.

    Zhang J, Liu XH, Wu SH, Cao BQ, Zheng SH (2012) One–pot synthesis of Au–supported ZnO nanoplates with enhanced gas sensor performance. Sens Actuat B Chem 169:61–66

  30. 30.

    Wolski L, Walkowiak A, Ziolek M (2019) Formation of reactive oxygen species upon interaction of Au/ZnO with H2O2 and their activity in methylene blue degradation. Catal Today 333:54–62

  31. 31.

    Chiu YH, Chang KD, Hsu YJ (2018) Plasmon–mediated charge dynamics and photoactivity enhancement for Au–decorated ZnO nanocrystals. J Mater Chem A 6:4286–4296

  32. 32.

    Liu TY, Chen W, Hua YX, Liu XH (2017) Au/ZnO nanoarchitectures with Au as both supporter and antenna of visible–light. Appl Sur Sci 392:616–623

  33. 33.

    Hartadi Y, Widmann D, Behm RJ (2016) Methanol formation by CO2 hydrogenation on Au/ZnO catalysts –effect of total pressure and influence of CO on the reaction characteristics. J Catal 333:238–250

  34. 34.

    Silva CG, Sampaio MJ, Carabineiro SAC, Oliveira JWL, Baptista DL, Bacsa R, Machado BF, Serp P, Figueiredo JL, Silva AMT, Faria JL (2014) Developing highly active photocatalysts: gold-loaded ZnO for solar phenol oxidation. J Catal 316:182–190

  35. 35.

    Choudhary MK, Kataria J, Sharma S (2018) Novel green biomimetic approach for preparation of highly stable Au–ZnO heterojunctions with enhanced photocatalytic activity. ACS Appl Nano Mater 1:1870–1878

  36. 36.

    Sun YQ, Sun YG, Zhang T, Chen GZ, Zhang FS, Liu DL, Cai WP, Li Y, Yang XF, Li CC (2016) Complete Au@ZnO core–shell nanoparticles with enhanced plasmonic absorption enabling significantly improved photocatalysis. Nanoscale 8:10774–10782

  37. 37.

    She P, Xu KL, Yin SY, Shang YX, He QR, Zeng S, Sun H, Liu ZN (2018) Bioinspired self-standing macroporous Au/ZnO sponges for enhanced photocatalysis. J Colloid Inter Sci 514:40–48

Download references


This work was supported by the Natural Science Research Project of Anhui Education Department (KJ2019A0806). LB wants to appreciate the Talent Introduction Project of Anhui Science and Technology University (no. 830166) for the financial support.

Author information

Correspondence to Lei Bai.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Bai, L., Mei, J. Low amount of Au nanoparticles deposited ZnO nanorods heterojunction photocatalysts for efficient degradation of p-nitrophenol. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-020-05249-4

Download citation


  • Au/ZnO
  • Chemical precipitation
  • Heterojunction
  • Photocatalytic degradation
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy