Synthesis and Characterization of Some Nanostructured Materials for Visible Light-driven Photo Processes
Abstract: Nanostructured materials for visible light driven photo-processes such as photodegradation of organic pollutants and photoelectrochemical (PEC) water oxidation for hydrogen production are very attractive because of the positive impact on the environment. Metal oxides-based nanostructures are widely used in these photoprocesses due to their unique properties. But single nanostructured metal oxide material might suffer from low efficiency and instability in aqueous solutions under visible light. These facts make it important to have an efficient and reliable nanocomposite for the photo-processes. The combination of different nanomaterials to form a composite configuration can produce a material with new properties. The new properties which are due to the synergetic effect, are a combination of the properties of all the counterparts of the nanocomposite. Zinc oxides (ZnO) have unique optical and electrical properties which grant it to be used in optoelectronics, sensors, solar cells, nanogenerators, and photocatalysis activities. Although ZnO absorbs visible light from the sun due to the deep level band, it mainly absorbs ultraviolet wavelengths which constitute a small portion of the whole solar spectrum range. Also, ZnO has a problem with the high recombination rate of the photogenerated electrons. These problems might reduce its applicability to the photo-process. Therefore, our aim is to develop and investigate different nanocomposites materials based on the ZnO nanostructures for the enhancement of photocatalysis processes using the visible solar light as a green source of energy. Two photo-processes were applied to examine the developed nanocomposites through photocatalysis: (1) the photodegradation of organic dyes, (2) PEC water splitting. In the first photo-process, we used the ZnO nanoparticles (NPs), Magnesium (Mg)-doped ZnO NPs, and plasmonic ZnO/graphene-based nanocomposite for the decomposition of some organic dyes that have been used in industries. For the second photo-process, ZnO photoelectrode composite with different silver-based semiconductors to enhance the performance of the ZnO photoelectrode was used for PEC reaction analysis to perform water splitting. The characterization and photocatalysis experiment results showed remarkable enhancement in the photocatalysis efficiency of the synthesized nanocomposites. The observed improved properties of the ZnO are due to the synergetic effects are caused by the addition of the other nanomaterials. Hence, the present thesis attends to the synthesis and characterization of some nanostructured materials composite with ZnO that are promising candidates for visible light-driven photo-processes.
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