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Issue 8, 2011
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Enhanced photocatalytic activity of mesoporous TiO2 aggregates by embedding carbon nanotubes as electron-transfer channel

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Abstract

Mesoporous multiwalled carbon nanotubes/titanium dioxide (CNTs/TiO2) nanocomposites with low loading amounts (0–0.5 wt%) of CNTs embedded inside mesoporous TiO2 aggregates has been prepared by a simple one-pot hydrothermal method using titanium sulfate as titanium source. The as-prepared CNTs/TiO2 samples are carefully characterized, analyzed and discussed. In contrast to previous reports with high CNT loading, our results indicate that a low CNT loading slightly influences the textural properties (including crystallite size, degree of crystallinity, specific surface areas, and pore volume etc.) and UV-light absorption of the mesoporous TiO2 aggregates. The SEM and TEM results demonstrate that the CNTs are mostly embedded in the mesoporous TiO2 aggregates. Moreover, chemical bonds are formed at the interface between CNTs and TiO2, which is confirmed by the Raman, IR and XPS analyses. Significantly, we point out that PL analysis in terms of intensity of PL signals seems to not be a reliable way to monitor the recombination rate in the CNTs/TiO2 composite, due to the quenching effect of CNTs. Instead, the analysis of transient photocurrent responses is introduced, which definitely reflects CNTs as fast electron transfer channels in chemically-bonded CNTs/TiO2 composites with low CNT loading. Notably, the positive synergy effects of CNTs and TiO2 depend on both the CNT loading amount and the state of interfacial contacts. In our study, only these chemically bonded CNTs/TiO2 nanocomposites with appropriate loading amounts (<0.1 wt%) favor the separation of photogenerated electron-hole pairs and decrease their recombination rate and thus display significantly enhanced photocatalytic activity for degrading acetone in air under UV irradiation, as compared with pristine TiO2 counterparts and commercial P25 photocatalyst. In contrast, a high CNT loading (>0.1 wt%) results in a decrease in photocatalytic activity; a simple mechanical mixing of CNTs and TiO2 without forming chemical bonds at the interface also results in inferior photocatalytic performance.

Graphical abstract: Enhanced photocatalytic activity of mesoporous TiO2 aggregates by embedding carbon nanotubes as electron-transfer channel

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Publication details

The article was received on 10 Jul 2010, accepted on 05 Nov 2010 and first published on 21 Dec 2010


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01139H
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011,13, 3491-3501
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    Enhanced photocatalytic activity of mesoporous TiO2 aggregates by embedding carbon nanotubes as electron-transfer channel

    J. Yu, T. Ma and S. Liu, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2011, 13, 3491
    DOI: 10.1039/C0CP01139H

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