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Photocatalytic activity of silica and silica-silver nanocolloids based on photo-induced formation of reactive oxygen species

  • Romolini, G; 121990;
  • Gambucci, M;
  • Ricciarelli, D;
  • Tarpani, L;
  • Zampini, G;
  • Latterini, L;
Publication Date
Aug 27, 2021
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Semiconductor nanomaterials are often proposed as photocatalysts for wastewater treatment; silica nanomaterials are still largely unexploited because their photocatalytic performances need improvements, especially under visible light. The present study is a proof-of-concept that amorphous silica colloids once submitted to the proper surface modifications change into an efficient photocatalyst even under low-energy illumination source. For this reason, silica-based colloidal nanomaterials, such as bare (SiO2 NPs), aminated (NH2-SiO2 NPs), and Ag NPs-decorated (Ag-SiO2 NPs) silica, are tested as photocatalysts for the degradation of 9-anthracenecarboxylic acid (9ACA), taken as a model aromatic compound. Interestingly, upon irradiation at 313 nm, NH2-SiO2 NPs induce 9ACA degradation, and the effect is even improved when Ag-SiO2 NPs are used. On the other hand, irradiation at 405 nm activates the plasmon of Ag-SiO2 NPs photocatalyst, providing a faster and more efficient photodegradation. The photodegradation experiments are also performed under white light illumination, employing a low-intensity fluorescent lamp, confirming satisfying efficiencies. The catalytic effect of SiO2-based nanoparticles is thought to originate from photo-excitable surface defects and Ag NP plasmons since the catalytic degradation takes place only when the 9ACA is adsorbed on the surface. In addition, the involvement of reactive oxygen species was demonstrated through a scavenger use, obtaining a yield of 17%. In conclusion, this work shows the applicability of silica-based nanoparticles as photocatalysts through the involvement of silica surface defects, confirming that the silica colloids can act as photocatalysts under irradiation with monochromatic and white light. Silica and Ag-decorated silica colloids photosensitize the formation of Reactive Oxygen Species with 17% efficiencies. ROS are able to oxidase aromatic pollutants chemi-adsorbed on the surface of the colloids. Silica-silver nanocomposites present a photocatalytic activity useful to degrade aromatic compounds. / status: published

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