Exploration of irradiation intensity dependent external in-band quantum yield for ZnO and CuO/ZnO photocatalysts†
Decorating metal oxides with wide band-gap semiconductor nano-particles constitute an important approach for synthesizing nano-photocatalysts, where the photocatalytic activity is attributed to the band diagram related effective charge separation and external in-band quantum yield (EIQY). However, up to now, the correlation between the irradiation intensity and the functionalization of the in-band quantum yield has not yet been explained. In this work, by investigating the photocatalytic activity of ZnO and CuO/ZnO (CZO) nano-photocatalysts under various irradiative intensities, we show that the effective charge separation in the CuO/ZnO band alignment is sensitive to weak illumination, while ZnO exhibits a competitive photocatalytic activity with CZO under strong illumination. As a consequence, by modifying the irradiation intensity, the intrinsic ZnO can achieve a similar photocatalytic activity to that of metal oxide decorated ZnO. Besides, the optimal photocatalytic activity of CZO is found to be reachable by manipulating the pollutant concentration.