Electron-hole recombination limits the efficiency of TiO2 photocatalysis. We have investigated the efficacy with which anatase/carbon nanotube (CNT) composite materials reduce charge recombination and enhance reactivity. We synthesized nanostructured assemblies composed of different proportions of anatase (5 or 100 nm) and either single-or multi-walled CNTs. The composites were prepared using a simple low temperature process in which CNTs and anatase nanoparticles were dispersed in water, dehydrated at 80°C, and dried at 104°C. The structures of the various TiO2/CNT composites were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and their function was tested by phenol oxidation. Charge recombination was compared by measuring the photoluminescence spectra of select composites. We found that a nanostructured composite assembled from the 100 nm anatase and single-walled CNTs (SWCNTs) exhibited enhanced and selective photocatalytic oxidation of phenol in comparison to both pure anatase and Degussa P25. A mechanism for the enhanced reactivity is proposed in which electrons are shuttled from TiO2 particles to the SWCNTs as a result of an optimal TiO2/CNT arrangement that stabilizes charge separation and reduces charge recombination. In addition, the SWCNT assembly provides better catalyst-support (dispersal and connection) than multi-walled CNTs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry