In this work we have prepared a series of visible-light active Ni–Zn/Cr–CO32− LDHs with (Ni + Zn)/Cr ratio 2.0, while varying the Ni/Zn atomic ratio to 0 : 100, 25 : 75, 50 : 50, 75 : 25 and 100 : 0, and tested them for visible light photocatalytic hydrogen evolution. The photophysical and photocatalytic properties of the samples were evaluated thoroughly by PXRD, TEM and FESEM, UV-vis DRS, FTIR, PL and BET-Surface area. The PXRD measurement demonstrates a characteristic of hydrotalcite with long range order structure. The shifting of the d110 plane towards a lower angle clearly indicates that there is Ni2+ substitution in the brucite layer of Zn/Cr–CO32− LDH. Different diffuse reflectance spectra revealed that the absorption in the visible region is attributed to the metal-to-metal charge-transfer (MMCT) excitation of ZnII/NiII–O–CrIII to ZnI/NiI–O–CrIV. This oxo-bridged hetero-bimetallic assembly acts as a photo-induced centre for hydrogen evolution. The photocatalytic studies suggested that the Ni–Zn/Cr–CO32− LDH with Ni : Zn ratio of 75 : 25 exhibits the best photocatalytic activity under visible light radiation compared with the others. The detailed mechanism for the photocatalytic decomposition of water to hydrogen has also been discussed.
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