Ternary dual Z-scheme graphitic carbon nitride/ultrathin metal–organic framework nanosheet/Ag3PO4 photocatalysts for boosted photocatalytic performance under visible light†
Ternary graphitic carbon nitride/ultrathin metal–organic framework nanosheet/Ag3PO4 (CNUA) composite photocatalysts were prepared under ultrasonic irradiation in tetrahydrofuran. The aim was to use them as photocatalysts for the degradation of organic pollutants in water. The crystal structure, surface morphology, optical properties, and chemical composition of the photocatalytic materials were investigated using X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy, UV-vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). The XPS analysis revealed the formation of Ag nanoparticles, which play an important role as an electronic mediator and photosensitizer in the composite during the synthesis. The photocatalytic activity of the composites in the degradation of 2-chlorophenol (2-CP) under visible light (>420 nm) was evaluated. Among the synthesized photocatalysts, the optimized CNUA with 10 wt% of g-C3N4 with respect to Ag3PO4 (CN10UA), exhibited the best photocatalytic performance in the degradation of 2-CP, which was almost decomposed completely upon ∼5 min of visible-light irradiation. Furthermore, the stability of the CN10UA photocatalyst could be maintained at a high level even after four cycling experiments, while that of pure Ag3PO4 declined significantly. The enhanced photocatalytic performance results from efficient charge separation through the dual Z-scheme mechanism involving Ag(0) bridges in the g-C3N4/Ag/Ag3PO4 and Ag3PO4/Ag/UMOFN pathways. The analysis of the photoluminescence of the catalysts also provided evidence for charge transport via the dual Z-scheme mechanism. In addition, radical scavenging tests confirmed that h+ and O2˙− are the main radical reactive species responsible for the photodegradation of 2-CP. The findings of this study enhance our understanding of the construction and mechanism of dual Z-scheme-type photocatalysts.