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Heterojunction catalysts g-C3N4/-3ZnO-c-Zn2Ti3O8 with highly enhanced visible-light-driven photocatalytic activity

  • Original Paper: Sol-gel and hybrid materials for catalytic, photoelectrochemical and sensor applications
  • Published:
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Abstract

In this study, pristine ZnO, TiO2, hexagonal-ZnTiO3, and cubic-Zn2Ti3O8 nanoparticles were synthesized by varying the molar ratio of ZnO/TiO2 by sol–gel method assisted with calcinations at 500 °C for 2 h in air. Compared with the pristine phase of zincite (ZnO) and anatase/rutile (TiO2), hybrid nanostructures with 3ZnO:1TiO2 (3ZT) that retain zincite and c-Zn2Ti3O8 demonstrated a higher photocatalytic activity (~82% degradation within 45 min). 3ZT photocatalyst that has been loaded with 10 wt% g-C3N4 has further enhanced visible-light photocatalytic activity performance up to ~99% degradation within 45 min under sunlight illumination. The bandgap energy of 2.5 eV, the formation of a heterojunction of 10g-C3N4/-3ZnO-c-Zn2Ti3O8, crystalline nature of the phases, and high quantity of surface OH resulted in higher adsorption of organic molecules, causing a substantial improvement in degradation of methylene blue (MB) from ~1.8 to 2.2% per min, which in turn was ~70% better than other reported work.

Highlights

  • Tremendous improvements in photocatalytic efficiency up to ~99% under sunlight irradiation are achieved by the new photocatalyst with formulation of 10g-C3N4/-3ZnO-c-Zn2Ti3O8.

  • The implication of various crystal structures (h-ZnTiO3, c-Zn2Ti3O8, ZnO, anatase, and rutile TiO2) on the formation of a heterojunction and changes in bandgap energy for better charge carrier separation to improve photocatalytic activity is elucidated.

  • h+ and OH were identified as the dominant reactive species in removal of MB by 10g-C3N4/-3ZnO-c-Zn2Ti3O8.

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Abbreviations

ZAD:

zinc acetate dihydrate

XRD:

X-ray diffraction

FESEM:

field-emission scanning electron microscope

DRS:

diffuse reflectance spectra

TA-PL:

terephthalic acid with photoluminescence

XPS:

X-ray photospectroscopy

HRTEM:

high-resolution transmission electron microscopy

MB:

methylene blue

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Acknowledgements

The authors are thankful to the Ministry of Education (MOE) Malaysia for funding this work under Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) grant no. 6071401. The authors are very much grateful to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for providing the necessary facilities to carry out the research work.

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Correspondence to Srimala Sreekantan or Vignesh Kumaravel.

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Sutanto, N., Saharudin, K.A., Sreekantan, S. et al. Heterojunction catalysts g-C3N4/-3ZnO-c-Zn2Ti3O8 with highly enhanced visible-light-driven photocatalytic activity. J Sol-Gel Sci Technol 93, 354–370 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-019-05101-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10971-019-05101-4

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