Luminescent mesoporous nanorods as photocatalytic enzyme-like peroxidase surrogates†
Herein we report on a novel inorganic peroxidase-mimicking nanocatalyst activated under blue LED photoirradiation. A novel flash-pyrolysis method has been developed for the generation of strong blue photoluminescence (PL) centers attributed to silicon and carbon-based sites within a mesoporous SBA-15 silica nanorod platform. The type of centers and their PL response can be controlled by varying the flash thermal treatment conditions. By tailoring the operating conditions the system can be driven towards the preferential generation of carbon-based luminescent centers, with or without the simultaneous generation of silicon-based centers. The properties and the nature of these luminescent centers within the mesoporous nanorods have been thoroughly corroborated by a battery of characterization techniques including fluorescence spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) at the local level of the structures combined with scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) imaging. In addition, these luminescent mesoporous nanorods have been successfully tested as robust photocatalysts able to display peroxidase-like activity and indirect glucose sensing in a wider range of pH conditions compared to the natural enzyme, especially when carbogenic dots and oxygen-deficient silica centers are simultaneously present in the structure.