TiO2 nanofibers resembling ‘yellow bristle grass’ in morphology by a soft chemical transformation†
We synthesized a uniquely shaped one-dimensional (1-D) TiO2 nanostructure having the morphology of yellow bristle grass with high surface area by the titanate route under mild reaction conditions. The electrospun TiO2–SiO2 composite nanofibers upon treatment with concentrated NaOH at 80 °C under ambient pressure for 24 h resulted in sodium titanate (Na2Ti3O7) nanostructures. The Na2Ti3O7 nanostructures have an overall 1-D fibrous morphology but the highly porous fiber surfaces were decorated with layered thorn-like features (a morphology resembling that of yellow bristle grass) resulting in high surface area (113 m2 g−1) and porosity. The Na2Ti3O7 nanostructures were converted into TiO2 nanostructures of the same morphology by acidification (0.1 N HCl) followed by low temperature sintering (110 °C) processes. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs) constructed out of the material (cells of area 0.20 cm2 and thickness 12 μm) showed a power conversion efficiency (η) of 8.02% in comparison with commercial P-25 TiO2 (η = 6.1%).