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Mesoporous anatase-phase TiO2 hollow shells were successfully fabricated by the solvothermal and calcination process. This method involves preparation of SiO2@TiO2 core–shell colloidal templates, sequential deposition of carbon and then silica layers through solvothermal and sol–gel processes, crystallization of TiO2 by calcination and finally removal of the inner and outer silica to produce hollow anatase TiO2 shells. The prepared samples were characterized by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, N2 adsorption–desorption isotherms and UV-vis absorption spectroscopy. The results show that a uniform carbon layer is coated on the core–shell particles through the solvothermal process. The combustion of carbon offers the space for the TiO2 to further grow into large crystal grains, and the outer silica layer serves as a barrier against the excessive growth of anatase TiO2 nanocrystals. Furthermore, the initial crystallization of TiO2 generated in the carbon coating step and the heat generated by the combustion of the carbon layer allow the crystallization of TiO2 at a relatively low temperature without changing the uniform structure. When used as photocatalysts for the oxidation decomposition of Rhodamine B in aqueous solution under UV irradiation, the hollow TiO2 shells showed enhanced catalytic activity. Moreover, the TiO2 hollow shells prepared with optimal crystallinity by this method showed a higher performance than commercial P25 TiO2.
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