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Issue 12, 2014
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Morphology control, defect engineering and photoactivity tuning of ZnO crystals by graphene oxide – a unique 2D macromolecular surfactant

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Abstract

Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructured materials have received significant attention because of their unique physicochemical and electronic properties. In particular, the functional properties of ZnO are strongly dependent on its morphology and defect structure, particularly for a semiconductor ZnO-based photocatalyst. Here, we demonstrate a simple strategy for simultaneous morphology control, defect engineering and photoactivity tuning of semiconductor ZnO by utilizing the unique surfactant properties of graphene oxide (GO) in a liquid phase. By varying the amount of GO added during the synthesis process, the morphology of ZnO gradually evolves from a one dimensional prismatic rod to a hexagonal tube-like architecture while GO is converted into reduced GO (RGO). In addition, the introduction of GO can create oxygen vacancies in the lattice of ZnO crystals. As a result, the absorption edge of the wide band gap semiconductor ZnO is effectively extended to the visible light region, which thus endows the RGO–ZnO nanocomposites with visible light photoactivity; in contrast, the bare ZnO nanorod is only UV light photoactive. The synergistic integration of the unique morphology and the presence of oxygen vacancies imparts the RGO–ZnO nanocomposite with remarkably enhanced visible light photoactivity as compared to bare ZnO and its counterpart featuring different structural morphologies and the absence of oxygen vacancies. Our promising results highlight the versatility of the 2D GO as a solution-processable macromolecular surfactant to fabricate RGO–semiconductor nanocomposites with tunable morphology, defect structure and photocatalytic performance in a system-materials-engineering way.

Graphical abstract: Morphology control, defect engineering and photoactivity tuning of ZnO crystals by graphene oxide – a unique 2D macromolecular surfactant

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Publication details

The article was received on 29 Nov 2013, accepted on 17 Jan 2014 and first published on 20 Jan 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3CP55038A
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2014,16, 5589-5599
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    Morphology control, defect engineering and photoactivity tuning of ZnO crystals by graphene oxide – a unique 2D macromolecular surfactant

    X. Pan, M. Yang and Y. Xu, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2014, 16, 5589
    DOI: 10.1039/C3CP55038A

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