Liquid-phase exfoliated MoS2 nanosheets doped with p-type transition metals: a comparative analysis of photocatalytic and antimicrobial potential combined with density functional theory
MoS2 nanosheets were developed by undertaking the liquid-phase exfoliation of bulk counterparts. In order to enhance its photocatalytic properties, the host material was doped with p-type transition metals (i.e., Ag, Co, Bi, and Zr). The hydrothermal technique was used to produce samples doped with 7.5 wt% transition metals (TM). X-ray diffraction detected the existence of 2H-phase by mirroring its reflection at 2θ ∼ 14°, while the peak distribution revealed the degree of exfoliation in samples. Low PL intensities indicated a lower recombination of electron–hole pairs, as corroborated by a high degree of photocatalytic action. Raman analysis was undertaken to identify molecular vibrations. The A1g mode in Raman spectra consistently showed a blueshift in all samples and the E12g mode was only slightly affected, which is evidence of the p-type doping in the MoS2 nanosheets. In the XPS spectrum, two characteristic peaks of Mo 3d appeared at 229.87 and 233.03 eV assigned to Mo-3d5/2 and Mo-3d3/2, respectively. Furthermore, a microstructural examination with HR-TEM and FESEM divulged a thin-layered structure of MoS2 consisting of flat, gently curved or twisted nanosheets. Diverse morphologies were observed with a non-uniform distribution of the dopant. Photocatalytic action of the TM-doped products effectively degraded methylene blue (MB) concentrations of up to 94 percent (for Ag-MoS2). The synergistic effect of doped MoS2 nanosheets against S. aureus in comparison to E. coli bacteria was also evaluated. The efficacy % age improved from (0–31.7%) and (23.5–55.2%) against E. coli, and (0–34.2%) and (8.3–69.23%) against S. aureus. Moreover, results from first principles calculations indicate that substitutional doping of TM atoms is indeed advantageous. Theoretical calculations confirmed that doping with Ag, Co, Bi, and Zr leads to a decrease in the band gap to a certain degree, in which the conduction band edge shifts toward lower energy, while the valence band shifts closer to the high energy end. It can be concluded that Ag, Co, and Bi impurities can lead to beneficial p-type doping in MoS2 monolayered structures. With regards to doping with Zr, the acceptor levels are formed above the edge of the valence band, revealing an introduction of the p-type character.