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Synthesis of Cr³⁺-doped TiO₂ nanoparticles: characterization and evaluation of their visible photocatalytic performance and stability

Mendiola-Alvarez, Sandra Yadira, Guzmán-Mar, Jorge Luis, Turnes-Palomino, Gemma, Maya-Alejandro, Fernando, Caballero-Quintero, Adolfo, Hernández-Ramírez, Aracely, Hinojosa-Reyes, Laura
Environmental technology 2019 v.40 no.2 pp. 144-153
Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, acetic acid, acidity, catalysts, cations, chromium, environmental technology, hydroxyl radicals, irradiation, microwave treatment, nanoparticles, nitrogen, particle size, photocatalysis, photoluminescence, porous media, reflectance spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, sol-gel processing, surface area, titanium, titanium dioxide, transmission electron microscopy
Cr³⁺-doped TiO₂ nanoparticles (Ti-Cr) were synthesized by microwave-assisted sol-gel method. The Ti-Cr catalyst was characterized by X-ray diffraction, ultraviolet-visible diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, N₂ adsorption-desorption analysis, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, photoluminescence spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and zetametry. The anatase mesoporous Ti-Cr material exhibited a specific surface area of 54.5 m²/g. XPS analysis confirmed the proper substitution of Ti⁴⁺ cations by Cr³⁺ cations in the TiO₂ matrix. The particle size was of average size of 17 nm for the undoped TiO₂ but only 9.5 nm for Ti-Cr. The Cr atoms promoted the formation of hydroxyl radicals and modified the surface adsorptive properties of TiO₂ due to the increase in surface acidity of the material. The photocatalytic evaluation demonstrated that the Ti-Cr catalyst completely degraded (4-chloro-2-methylphenoxy) acetic acid under visible light irradiation, while undoped TiO₂ and P25 allowed 45.7% and 31.1%, respectively. The rate of degradation remained 52% after three cycles of catalyst reuse. The higher visible light photocatalytic activity of Ti-Cr was attributed to the beneficial effect of Cr³⁺ ions on the TiO₂ surface creating defects within the TiO₂ crystal lattice, which can act as charge-trapping sites, reducing the electron−hole recombination process.