Metal Oxide Nanostructures for Solar Driven Photocatalytic Process
by Rania E. Adam, Sudan (PPRE 2007/09)
Many metal oxide nanostructures are promising materials for photocatalytic processes such as degradation of toxic waste, and water splitting for hydrogen production. The potential of nanostructures is due to the unique properties associated with scaling down the size of the material entities. With the clear demand for the need of a sustainable energy sources worldwide, the use of the sun visible light as the source of powering these photocatalytic processes, will provide a possible solution. In this PhD study my activity will be mainly using single and composite metal oxide nanostructures. As an example, we are preparing zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures to be used as a catalysts for degradation of toxic dye solutions. First We have prepared ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) by the chemical low temperature (60 °C) precipitation method and used these NPs as a reactive catalyst to decomposition Congo red dye under solar radiation. The synthesized ZnO nanoparticles were characterized by x-ray powder diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), cathodoluminescence spectroscopy (CL), and UV-vis optical absorption spectroscopy. We performed the photocatalytic experiments for degradation of Congo red dye where ZnO NPs were mixed with the dye solution and exposed to the solar light for 3 hours. During the 3 hours we withdrew some dye solution in a 30 minutes time interval and the concentration of the dye was measured. The results showed that ZnO NPs is relatively effective under solar radiation for the degradation of the Congo red dye. This is due to the defects on the prepared ZnO NPs that introduced during the growth process of ZnO NPs which shift the absorption wavelength band towards the visible light. Further we will modify the prepared ZnO NPs to constitute part of a composite metal oxide nanostructure with other material to increase the photocatalytic activities and the absorption of the materials to cover more range in visible light region of the solar spectrum. These nanocomposites include ZnO/ZnS core shell nanoparticles, and ZnO/Ag2S core shell nanoparticles.
Keywords: ZnO nanostructures, point defects, photocatalytic, visible light
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