Well-controlled metal co-catalysts synthesised by chemical vapour impregnation for photocatalytic hydrogen production and water purification.


As co-catalyst materials, metal nanoparticles (NPs) play crucial roles in heterogeneous photocatalysis. The photocatalytic performance strongly relies on the physical properties (i.e., composition, microstructure, and surface impurities) of the metal NPs. Here we report a convenient chemical vapour impregnation (CVI) approach for the deposition of monometallic-, alloyed, and core-shell structured metal co-catalysts onto the TiO2 photocatalyst. The as-synthesised metal NPs are highly dispersed on the support and show narrow size distributions, which suit photocatalysis applications. More importantly, the surfaces of the as-synthesised metal NPs are free of protecting ligands, enabling the photocatalysts to be ready to use without further treatment. The effect of the metal identity, the alloy chemical composition, and the microstructure on the photocatalytic performance has been investigated for hydrogen production and phenol decomposition. Whilst the photocatalytic H2 production performance can be greatly enhanced by using the core-shell structured co-catalyst (Pdshell-Aucore and Ptshell-Aucore), the Ptshell-Aucore modified TiO2 yields enhanced quantum efficiency but a reduced effective decomposition of phenol to CO2 compared to that of the monometallic counterparts. We consider the CVI approach provides a feasible and elegant process for the decoration of photocatalyst materials.

DOI: 10.1039/c4dt01309c
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