Sn-modified TiO[sub]2 thin film photocatalysts prepared by low-temperature sol-gel processing : dissertationKsenija Maver
, 2021, doctoral dissertation
Abstract: Due to many advantageous physiochemical properties, titanium dioxide (TiO2) is the most widely used photocatalyst in numerous applications, such as wastewater treatment and air purification, self-cleaning surfaces and energy conversion (H2 generation). However, one of its disadvantages is the high electron-hole recombination rate, and coupling with other semiconductors is one of the strategies to improve it. The objective of this dissertation was to investigate how the photocatalytic activity of pure TiO2 can be improved by tin modification and to explain the mechanism of increased or hindered photoactivity in correlation with the structural properties of the modified TiO2 photocatalysts.
A new low-temperature sol-gel synthesis route was developed to prepare Sn- or SnO2-modified TiO2 photocatalysts. In both cases, organic tin and titanium precursors were used. Tin in the form of Sn cations was used to prepare Sn-modified TiO2. In this case, the precursors went through the sol-gel reaction together to form a Sn-TiO2 sol. In the case of SnO2 modification, the SnO2 sol was prepared separately and additionally mixed with the TiO2 sol to form a TiO2/SnO2 bicomponent semiconductor system. Different molar ratios of tin to titanium were prepared to investigate the correlation between the tin concentration and the photocatalytic properties of the photocatalysts in the form of thin films. The results were used to optimize the synthesis conditions to obtain an improved activity of the modified TiO2 photocatalysts under UV-irradiation.
The photocatalytic activity of the thin films was determined by measuring the degradation rate of an azo dye. An increase of up to 40 % in the photocatalytic activity of the dried samples (at 150 °C) was achieved when the TiO2 was modified with the Sn or SnO2 in a concentration range of 0.1 to 1 mol.%. At higher Sn or SnO2 loadings and after calcination of the samples at 500 °C, the photocatalytic activity of the photocatalyst was reduced compared to the unmodified TiO2.
Different characterization techniques (UV-Vis, XRD, nitrogen physisorption, TEM, SEM and XAS) were employed to clarify the mechanism responsible for the enhanced and hindered photocatalytic performance of the Sn- and SnO2-modified TiO2 photocatalysts. The results showed that a nanocrystalline structure is already achieved in the samples by the low-temperature film treatment (drying at 150 °C) and that the photocatalytic efficiency is mainly influenced by the crystalline phase composition: anatase/rutile in the case of Sn-modified and TiO2/SnO2 in the case of SnO2-modified TiO2. The crystal size and specific surface area differ insignificantly between the equally thermally treated samples and partly explain the differences in photoefficiency of the calcined samples compared to the dried samples. The structural study at the atomic level, using the Sn K-edge EXAFS, revealed that Sn cations act as nucleation sites for the anatase to rutile transformation in the Sn-modified TiO2 photocatalysts, while in the SnO2-modified TiO2 samples the nanocrystalline cassiterite SnO2 is bound to the TiO2 nanocrystallites via the Sn-O-Ti bond. In both cases, the advantage of coupling the two semiconductors was achieved by separating the charge carriers and thus prolonging their lifetime for accessibility to participate in the redox reactions. The maximum activity enhancement was achieved in the low concentration range (0.1–1 mol.%), which means that an optimal ratio and contact of the two phases are obtained for the given physical parameters, such as particle size, shape and specific surface area of the catalyst.
Keywords: Sn-modified TiO2, SnO2-modified TiO2, low-temperature sol-gel, thin films, photocatalytic activity, anatase/rutile system, Sn K-edge EXAFS, dissertations
Published in RUNG: 09.06.2021; Views: 3510; Downloads: 153
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