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Copper-nanoparticle-dispersed amorphous BaTiO₃ thin films as hole-trapping centers: enhanced photocatalytic activity and stability

Zhang, Su-Wei, Li, Shun, Zhang, Bo-Ping, Yu, Dongfang, Zhang, Zuotai, Li, Jing-Feng
RSC advances 2019 v.9 no.9 pp. 5045-5052
barium titanate, copper, copper nanoparticles, cost effectiveness, electric current, gold, nanocomposites, nanogold, nanosilver, photocatalysis, photocatalysts, photostability, rhodamines, semiconductors, silver, surface plasmon resonance, water pollution
Nobel metal (Au and Ag) nanoparticles are often used in semiconductor photocatalysis to enhance the photocatalytic activity, while inexpensive Cu attracts less attention due to its easy oxidization. Herein, an elaborate study was conducted using Cu-nanoparticle-dispersed amorphous BaTiO₃ films as photocatalysts. Photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical measurements demonstrated that the degradation efficiency and photocurrent density of the nanocomposite films are approximately 3.5 and 10 times as high as the pristine BaTiO₃ film, respectively, which can be ascribed to a synergetic effect of the surface plasmon resonance and interband excitation. In addition, a good stability was also demonstrated by cyclic tests for the degradation of rhodamine B, which may be due to the amorphous nature of the BaTiO₃ matrix providing hole-trapping centers. The high photocatalytic stability suggests that Cu is a promising alternative metal to replace Au and Ag for the development of cost-effective photocatalysts. Our work demonstrates a simple and promising strategy for improving the photostability of Cu nanomaterials and may provide a useful guideline for designing Cu-based composite materials toward various photocatalytic applications such as water pollution treatment.