Visible light-driven CdSe nanotube array photocatalyst
© Zhu and Li; licensee Springer. 2013
Received: 21 January 2013
Accepted: 26 March 2013
Published: 16 May 2013
Large-scale CdSe nanotube arrays on indium tin oxide (ITO) glass have been synthesized using ZnO nanorod template. The strong visible light absorption in CdSe, its excellent photoresponse, and the large surface area associated with the tubular morphology lead to good visible light-driven photocatalytic capability of these nanotube arrays. Compared to freestanding nanoparticles, such one-piece nanotube arrays on ITO make it very convenient for catalyst recycling after their usage
KeywordsNanotube arrays Template synthesis II-VI semiconductors Visible light photocatalysis
The development of nanometer-sized photocatalysts for efficient degradation of organic pollutants has attracted continuous research attention [1–4]. Among various morphologies of nanostructures, well-aligned pseudo-one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures such as nanowire (NW) or nanotube (NT) arrays are of particular interest, since the specific morphology brings in several advantages: Its large surface-to-volume ratio prompts the surface-related chemical reactions, which is critical in most of the catalytic processes; when organized into arrays, the ordered NW/NT provides a direct pathway for charge carrier transfer to the conductive substrate. In addition, the NW/NT arrays may enhance light absorption by reducing the reflection or extending the optical path in the nanostructures [5, 6].
The most extensively studied NW/NT array photocatalyst for photodegradation of organic pollutants is the titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanotube arrays, as it is environmentally benign, capable of total mineralization of organic contaminants, easy to fabricate, and cheap. Nevertheless, its large bandgap (3.2 eV for anatase and 3.0 eV for rutile) only allows the absorption in UV range of the solar spectrum. Although doping TiO2 with elements, such as V, Cr, Mn, Fe, C, N, S, F, etc., could extend the absorption spectrum of TiO2 to the visible region, other problems occur and lead to the decrease in the quantum efficiency [7, 8]. Alternatively, direct employment of the narrower bandgap materials as the photocatalyst has been proposed as a possible solution. A few semiconductors have been investigated, such as II-VI materials (e.g., CdS [2, 9] and CdSe [10, 11]) and transition metal oxides (e.g., WO3[12–14], Fe2O3[15–18], Cu2O , Bi2WO6[20, 21], and ZnFe2O4). Nevertheless, most of the photocatalysts developed are the nanoparticles, which would not enjoy the advantage of the 1D morphology. In addition, after the nanoparticles are dispersed in the waste water for the catalytic reactions, it is troublesome to collect them after use.
In the present work, well-aligned CdSe nanotube arrays on indium tin oxide (ITO)/glass are obtained by electrodepositing CdSe on the surface of ZnO nanorod followed by ZnO etching. Such nanotube arrays exhibit strong light absorption and high photocurrent in response to the visible light. Moreover, the nanotube arrays exhibit good visible light-driven photocatalytic performance, as revealed by the photodegradation of methylene blue (MB) in aqueous solution. The charge carrier flow during the degradation process and mechanism of MB degradation are also discussed.
The CdSe nanotube arrays were synthesized via a ZnO nanorod template method, the detail of which can be found elsewhere [23–25]. Briefly, ZnO nanorod arrays were first fabricated on ITO/glass (10 Ω/□) using the hydrothermal method [26–29]. Next, CdSe nanoshells were electrodeposited on the surface of ZnO nanorods from an aqueous solution galvanostatically (at approximately 1 mA/cm2) at room temperature in a two-electrode electrochemical cell, with the nanorod array on ITO as the cathode and Pt foil as the anode. The deposition electrolyte contains 0.05 M Cd(CH3COO)2, 0.1 M Na3NTA (nitrilotriacetic acid trisodium salt), and 0.05 M Na2SeSO3 with excess sulfite [30, 31]. After approximately 7 min of electrodeposition, the ZnO/CdSe nanocable arrays were dipped into a 25% ammonia solution at room temperature for 30 min to remove the ZnO core - a process that leads to the formation of nanotube arrays on ITO. Finally, the nanotube samples were annealed at 350°C under Ar atmosphere for 1 h.
The general morphology and the crystallinity of the samples were examined by scanning electron microscopy (SEM; Quantum F400, FEI Company, Hillsboro, USA) and X-ray diffraction (XRD; Rigaku SMARTLAB XRD, Tokyo, Japan), respectively. Their detailed microstructure and chemical composition were investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM; Tecnai 20 FEG, FEI Company) with an energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectrometer attached to the same microscope. Optical absorption was measured using a Hitachi U3501 spectrophotometer (Hitachi, Tokyo, Japan). Photoelectrochemical measurements were carried out in a three-electrode electrochemical cell using an electrochemical workstation (CHI660C, Shanghai Chenhua Instruments Co., Ltd., Shanghai, China) with 0.35 M Na2SO3 and 0.24 M Na2S solution as the hole scavenger electrolyte, CdSe nanotube arrays on ITO as the working electrode, Ag/AgCl as the reference electrode, and Pt foil as the counter electrode. The illumination source was the visible light irradiation (100 mW/cm2) from a 150-W xenon lamp (Bentham IL7, Berkshire, UK) equipped with a 400-nm longpass filter. Photocatalytic activities of the nanotube arrays were evaluated from the degradation of 0.5 ppm MB aqueous solution (5 ml) with and without adding 10 vol.% ethanol. The degradation process was monitored by measuring the absorbance of the MB solution at 664 nm using Hitachi U3501 spectrophotometer every 0.5 h.
Results and discussion
Morphology, crystal structure, and chemical composition
Further evidence for the proposed photodegradation mechanism is obtained by adding ethanol (10 vol.%) to the MB aqueous solution. This alcohol has been found to scavenge both holes and · OH radicals . As a result, MB degradation is completely quenched after adding ethanol (green symbols in Figure 4), supporting that the photogenerated holes and/or · OH radicals are mainly responsible for the MB degradation.
In conclusion, large-scale CdSe nanotube arrays on ITO have been obtained by electrodepositing CdSe on the surface of ZnO nanorods followed by ZnO etching. The nanotube arrays show a strong absorption edge at approximately 700 nm, high photoresponse under visible light illumination, and good visible light-driven photocatalytic capability. This nanotube array on substrate morphology provides a device like catalyst assembly without sacrificing the surface area and is very attractive due to the recycling convenience after usage, as compared to freestanding nanostructures.
This work was supported by GRF of RGC (project no. 414710), direct grant (project no. 2060438), and UGC equipment grant (SEG_CUHK06).
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