Sustainable preparation of sunlight active α-Fe2O3 nanoparticles using iron containing ionic liquids for photocatalytic applications†
Inspired by the nano-segregation of ionic liquids (ILs) into bi-continuous structures constituting of arrays of ionic and non-ionic components, herein, a new and sustainable strategy for preparation of mesh-like nano-sheet α-Fe2O3 nanoparticles and their photo-catalytic activity under sunlight, is presented. For the purpose, metal (iron) containing ionic liquids (MILs), 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrachloroferrates, [Cnmim][FeCl4], (n = 4, 8 and 16), which not only act as precursors and solvents but also as structure directing agents have been used. Thus prepared NPs show MIL dependent structural, photophysical and magnetic properties. The catalytic efficiency of NPs has been tested for the photo-degradation of organic dyes (Rhodamine B) in aqueous solution under sunlight. The NPs are found to exhibit comparable catalytic efficiency under sunlight as compared to that observed under high intensity visible lamplight, without showing a decline in their catalytic efficiency even after 4 catalytic cycles. It is anticipated that the present work will provide a new platform for preparation of sunlight active nanomaterials for photo-catalytic applications with control over the structural and physical properties via varying the molecular structure of MILs.