Precursor-mediated synthesis of Cu2−xSe nanoparticles and their composites with TiO2 for improved photocatalysis†
The direct synthesis of copper selenide nanoparticles from the reaction of ditertiarybutyl selenide tBu2Se with copper(II) trifluoroacetate Cu(TFA)2 under mild conditions is reported. The isolation of a molecular species during the course of this reaction, established as [Cu2(TFA)2(tBu2Se)3], by spectroscopic studies and single crystal X-ray structure analysis, confirmed that metal selenide NPs are formed via this intermediate species containing a reduced copper center. Extending this reaction in the presence of commercial TiO2 (P25) offered an easy synthesis of copper selenide–titania nanocomposites with different Cu/Ti ratios. These nanocomposites, well-characterized by powder XRD, STEM, TEM, BET, XPS, EDX and UV-Vis studies, were examined as photocatalysts for the degradation of formic acid (FA). The nCu2−xSe–TiO2 nanocomposites with low mol% of copper selenide, i.e. n = 0.1 and 0.3 mol%, displayed a superior catalytic activity over P25, which is an established benchmark for photocatalysis under UV light.