Fabrication, characterization and high photocatalytic activity of Ag–ZnO heterojunctions under UV-visible light
Pure ZnO and Ag–ZnO nanocomposites were fabricated via a sol–gel route, and the obtained photocatalysts were characterized by XRD, SEM, TEM, BET, XPS, PL and DRS. The results showed that Ag0 nanoparticles deposit on the ZnO surface and Ag modification has negligible impact on the crystal structure, surface hydroxyl group content and surface area of ZnO. However, the recombination of photogenerated electrons and holes was suppressed effectively by Ag loading. The photocatalytic activity was investigated by evaluating the degradation of MB under xenon lamp irradiation as the UV-visible light source, and the results show that the photocatalytic activity of ZnO significantly improved after Ag modification. Ag–ZnO photocatalysts exhibit higher photocatalytic activity than commercial photocatalyst P25. The degradation degree of MB for 1%Ag–ZnO was 97.1% after 15 min. ˙O2− radicals are the main active species responsible for the photodegradation process, and Ag–ZnO heterojunctions generate more ˙O2− radicals, which is the primary reason for the improved photocatalytic performance.