Depositing CdS nanoclusters on carbon-modified NaYF4:Yb,Tm upconversion nanocrystals for NIR-light enhanced photocatalysis
High-quality hexagonal NaYF4:Yb,Tm upconversion nanocrystals (UCNs) prepared in organic solutions display uniform sizes and strong UC emissions, but they possess a hydrophobic surface which hinders combining them with various semiconductor nanocrystals (NCs) to form a hybrid NIR-activated photocatalyst. Herein we present a facile approach to modify hydrophobic UCNs with a uniform carbon layer and enable them with hydrophilicity and surface functionalization. The carbon shell provides a good substrate for enriching with metal ions and in situ generation of CdS nanoclusters on the particle surface which can utilize both the upconverted UV and visible emissions. The developed NaYF4:Yb,Tm@C@CdS nanoparticles are characterized with TEM, SEM, XRD, PL and UV-Vis spectra and their formation mechanism is elucidated. The products display good photocatalytic activity under visible light and obviously enhanced performance under Vis-NIR light, due to the efficient utilization of UC emissions and the strong adsorption capacity of the carbon shell. The working mechanism of the hybrid photocatalysts is also proposed.