Noble metal photocatalysts under visible light and UV light irradiation

Chen, Xi (2010) Noble metal photocatalysts under visible light and UV light irradiation. PhD by Publication, Queensland University of Technology.


One of the greatest challenges for the study of photocatalysts is to devise new catalysts that possess high activity under visible light illumination. This would allow the use of an abundant and green energy source, sunlight, to drive chemical reactions. Gold nanoparticles strongly absorb both visible light and UV light. It is therefore possible to drive chemical reactions utilising a significant fraction of full sunlight spectrum. Here we prepared gold nanoparticles supported on various oxide powders, and reported a new finding that gold nanoparticles on oxide supports exhibit significant activity for the oxidation of formaldehyde and methanol in the air at ambient temperature, when illuminated with visible light. We suggested that visible light can greatly enhance local electromagnetic fields and heat gold nanoparticles due to surface plasmon resonance effect which provides activation energy for the oxidation of organic molecules. Moreover, the nature of the oxide support has an important influence on the activity of the gold nanoparticles. The finding reveals the possibility to drive chemical reactions with sunlight on gold nanoparticles at ambient temperature, highlighting a new direction for research on visible light photocatalysts. Gold nanoparticles supported on oxides also exhibit significant dye oxidation activity under visible light irradiation in aqueous solution at ambient temperature. Turnover frequencies of the supported gold nanoparticles for the dye degradation are much higher than titania based photocatalysts under both visible and UV light. These gold photocatalysts can also catalyse phenol degradation as well as selective oxidation of benzyl alcohol under UV light. The reaction mechanism for these photocatalytic oxidations was studied. Gold nanoparticles exhibit photocatalytic activity due to visible light heating gold electrons in 6sp band, while the UV absorption results in electron holes in gold 5d band to oxidise organic molecules. Silver nanoparticles also exhibit considerable visible light and UV light absorption due to surface plasmon resonance effect and the interband transition of 4d electrons to the 5sp band, respectively. Therefore, silver nanoparticles are potentially photocatalysts that utilise the solar spectrum effectively. Here we reported that silver nanoparticles at room temperature can be used to drive chemical reactions when illuminated with light throughout the solar spectrum. The significant activities for dye degradation by silver nanoparticles on oxide supports are even better than those by semiconductor photocatalysts. Moreover, silver photocatalysts also can degrade phenol and drive the oxidation of benzyl alcohol to benzaldehyde under UV light. We suggested that surface plasmon resonance effect and interband transition of silver nanoparticles can activate organic molecule oxidations under light illumination.

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ID Code: 47008
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD by Publication)
Supervisor: Zhu, Huai & Frost, Ray
Keywords: gold photocatalyst, silver photocatalyst, organic degradation, selective oxidation, visible light, ultraviolet light, surface plasmon resonance, interband transition, formaldehyde, methanol, dye, phenol, alcohol, aldehyde
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Nov 2011 06:19
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2011 06:19

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