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Issue 7, 2013
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Photocatalysis on supported gold and silver nanoparticles under ultraviolet and visible light irradiation

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Abstract

Studies of the optical properties and catalytic capabilities of noble metal nanoparticles (NPs), such as gold (Au) and silver (Ag), have formed the basis for the very recent fast expansion of the field of green photocatalysis: photocatalysis utilizing visible and ultraviolet light, a major part of the solar spectrum. The reason for this growth is the recognition that the localised surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) effect of Au NPs and Ag NPs can couple the light flux to the conduction electrons of metal NPs, and the excited electrons and enhanced electric fields in close proximity to the NPs can contribute to converting the solar energy to chemical energy by photon-driven photocatalytic reactions. Previously the LSPR effect of noble metal NPs was utilized almost exclusively to improve the performance of semiconductor photocatalysts (for example, TiO2 and Ag halides), but recently, a conceptual breakthrough was made: studies on light driven reactions catalysed by NPs of Au or Ag on photocatalytically inactive supports (insulating solids with a very wide band gap) have demonstrated that these materials are a class of efficient photocatalysts working by mechanisms distinct from those of semiconducting photocatalysts. There are several reasons for the significant photocatalytic activity of Au and Ag NPs. (1) The conduction electrons of the particles gain the irradiation energy, resulting in high energy electrons at the NP surface which is desirable for activating molecules on the particles for chemical reactions. (2) In such a photocatalysis system, both light harvesting and the catalysing reaction take place on the nanoparticle, and so charge transfer between the NPs and support is not a prerequisite. (3) The density of the conduction electrons at the NP surface is much higher than that at the surface of any semiconductor, and these electrons can drive the reactions on the catalysts. (4) The metal NPs have much better affinity than semiconductors to many reactants, especially organic molecules. Recent progress in photocatalysis using Au and Ag NPs on insulator supports is reviewed. We focus on the mechanism differences between insulator and semiconductor-supported Au and Ag NPs when applied in photocatalytic processes, and the influence of important factors, light intensity and wavelength, in particular estimations of light irradiation contribution, by calculating the apparent activation energies of photo reactions and thermal reactions.

Graphical abstract: Photocatalysis on supported gold and silver nanoparticles under ultraviolet and visible light irradiation

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Article information


Submitted
08 Mar 2013
Accepted
09 May 2013
First published
10 May 2013

Green Chem., 2013,15, 1814-1833
Article type
Tutorial Review

Photocatalysis on supported gold and silver nanoparticles under ultraviolet and visible light irradiation

S. Sarina, E. R. Waclawik and H. Zhu, Green Chem., 2013, 15, 1814
DOI: 10.1039/C3GC40450A

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