Versatile precursor-dependent copper sulfide nanoparticles as a multifunctional catalyst for the photocatalytic removal of water pollutants and the synthesis of aromatic aldehydes and NH-triazoles†
A series of copper sulfide (CS) nanoparticles (NPs) were synthesized just by varying the amount of the sulfur precursor and have been explored for the first time as a three-way heterogeneous catalyst in the photocatalytic oxidation of a number of aromatic alcohols, photocatalytic degradation and the reduction of water pollutants, and the facile synthesis of pharmaceutically important moiety 4-aryl-NH-1,2,3-triazoles. The green and novel protocol was successfully developed for the synthesis of covellite (CuS, Cu2+) and the covellite-villamaninite (CuS–CuS2) (copper in Cu2+, Cu1+) phases of copper sulfide, employing EDTA both as the chelating and capping agent via a simple precipitation method at room temperature using water as the solvent. A blue shift in the absorption spectra and band gap in the range of 2.02–2.07 eV prompted the investigation of the as-synthesized CS nanoparticles as the photocatalyst under visible light irradiation. In the absence of any oxidizing or reducing agent, covellite CuS nanoparticles showed the highest photocatalytic efficiency for the degradation of methylene blue (MB) and the reduction of carcinogenic and mutagenic Cr(VI) to non-toxic Cr(III). Interestingly, the mixed phase of CS (CuS–CuS2), where Cu is present in both +1 and +2 oxidation states, was found to be the most efficient catalyst compared to CuS toward the visible light-mediated selective oxidation of various benzyl alcohols to their corresponding aldehydes. However, in the synthesis of substituted NH-1,2,3-triazoles, single-phase CS nanoparticles (i.e., CuS) provided the best catalytic result. This significant outcome certainly opens up the scope for realizing the present demand of low-cost multifunctional semiconductor nano-materials, which will have a huge impact on the economy and environment when they show more than two potential applications.