Influence of Defects on the Photocatalytic Activity of ZnO

The influence of defects on the photoactivity of ZnO has been revealed. The defects can be formed via ball-milling treatment, and part of the defects can be repaired via annealing treatment. The photocatalytic activity of the ZnO sharply decreased as the ball-milling speed and milling time increased. After the annealing treatment, the photocatalytic activity recovered partly but could not return to the activity of the pristine ZnO. The bulk defects such as oxygen vacancies (VO), zinc vacancies (VZn) and a lot of nonradiative defects were formed after the milling treatment. The annealing treatment can only repair part of the bulk defects and nonradiative defects. Thus, only part of the photoactivity was recovered. The species trapping experiments showed that the introduction of the bulk defects did not change the photocatalytic mechanism. The main oxidative species for the pristine ZnO, the milled ZnO, and the annealed ZnO are photogenerated holes and hydroxyl radicals.