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Encapsulating Bi2Ti2O7 (BTO) with Reduced Graphene Oxide (RGO): An Effective Strategy to Enhance Photocatalytic and Photoelectrocatalytic activity of BTO

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journal contribution
posted on 12.11.2014, 00:00 by Satyajit Gupta, Vaidyanathan (Ravi) Subramanian
Multimetal oxides (AxByOz) offer a higher degree of freedom compared to single metal oxides (AOx) in that these oxides facilitate (i) designing nanomaterials with greater stability, (ii) tuning of the optical bandgap, and (iii) promoting visible light absorption. However, all AxByOz materials such as pyrochlores (A2B2O7)referred to here as band-gap engineered composite oxide nanomaterials or BECONsare traditionally prone to severe charge recombination at their surface. To alleviate the charge recombination, an effective strategy is to employ reduced graphene oxide (RGO) as a charge separator. The BECON and the RGO with oppositely charged functional groups attached to them can be integrated at the interface by employing a simple electrostatic self-assembly approach. As a case study, the approach is demonstrated using the Pt-free pyrochlore bismuth titanate (BTO) with RGO, and the application of the composite is investigated for the first time. When tested as a photocatalyst toward hydrogen production, an increase of ∼250% using BTO in the presence of RGO was observed. Further, photoelectrochemical measurements indicate an enhancement of ∼130% in the photocurrent with RGO inclusion. These two results firmly establish the viability of the electrostatic approach and the inclusion of RGO. The merits of the RGO addition is identified as (i) the RGO-assisted improvement in the separation of the photogenerated charges of BTO, (ii) the enhanced utilization of the charges in a photocatalytic process, and (iii) the maintenance of the BTO/RGO structural integrity after repeated use (established through reusability analysis). The success of the self-assembly strategy presented here lays the foundation for developing other forms of BECONs, belonging to perovskites (ABO3), sillenite (A12BO20), or delafossite (ABO2) groups, hitherto written off due to limited or no photoelectrochemicalactivity.