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Issue 26, 2013
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Origin of enhanced photocatalytic activity and photoconduction in high aspect ratio ZnO nanorods

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Abstract

Faceted ZnO nanorods with different aspect ratios were synthesized by a solvothermal method by tuning the reaction time. Increased reaction leads to the formation of high aspect ratio ZnO nanorods largely bound by the prism planes. The high aspect ratio rods showed significantly higher visible light photocatalytic activity when compared to the lower aspect ratio structures. It is proposed that the higher activity is due to better charge separation in the elongated 1D structure. In addition, the fraction of unsaturated Zn2+ sites is higher on the {10[1 with combining macron]0} facets, leading to better adsorption of oxygen-containing species. These species enhance the production of reactive radicals that are responsible for photodegradation. The photocurrent for these ZnO nanostructures under solar light was measured and a direct correlation between photocurrent and aspect ratio was observed. Since the underlying mechanisms for photodegradation and photocurrent generation are directly related to the efficiency of electron–hole creation and separation, this observation corroborates that the charge separation processes are indeed enhanced in the high aspect ratio structures. The efficiency of photoconduction (electron–hole pair separation) could be further improved by attaching Au nanoparticles on ZnO, which can act as a sink for the electrons. This heterostructure exhibits a high chemisorption of oxygen, which facilitates the production of highly reactive radicals contributing to the high photoreactivity. The suggested mechanisms are applicable to other n-type semiconductor nanostructures with important implications for applications relating to energy and the environment.

Graphical abstract: Origin of enhanced photocatalytic activity and photoconduction in high aspect ratio ZnO nanorods

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Mar 2013, accepted on 23 Apr 2013 and first published on 30 Apr 2013


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP51058A
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 10795-10802
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    Origin of enhanced photocatalytic activity and photoconduction in high aspect ratio ZnO nanorods

    A. Leelavathi, G. Madras and N. Ravishankar, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013, 15, 10795
    DOI: 10.1039/C3CP51058A

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