Facile synthesis of SnO2 nanofibers decorated with N-doped ZnO nanonodules for visible light photocatalysts using single-nozzle co-electrospinning†
Hybrid SnO2 nanofibers, decorated with N-doped ZnO nanonodules, were fabricated using a single-nozzle co-electrospinning process with a phase-separated, mixed polymer composite solution. Core (poly(acrylonitrile), PAN) and shell (poly(vinylpyrrolidone), PVP) structured nanofibers were first fabricated, and hybrid semiconductor metal oxide (SMO) nanofibers were formed by calcination. SnO2 nanofibers were created with core structures measuring 50 nm in diameter. N-doped ZnO nanonodules were grown on the surface of the SnO2 nanofibers by replacing the oxygen atom in the native oxide with a nitrogen atom. The population density and morphology of the ZnO nanonodules were precisely controlled by adjusting the precursor concentration in the PVP solution. The hybrid SMO nanofibers were applied for the degradation of organic pollutants. Rhodamine B (RB) was used in photocatalytic degradation tests with UV and visible light irradiation. The photocatalytic activity of the hybrid nanofibers was higher than that of commercial TiO2 (Degussa P-25). The photocatalytic activity increased with increasing populations of nanonodules. It was attributed to the heterostructure of the SnO2–N-doped ZnO nanofiber and the resulting increased interfacial area and Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) surface area. The synthetic methodology described herein promises to be an effective approach for fabricating hybrid core–shell inorganic nanostructures for catalytic applications.