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Evolution of Physical and Photocatalytic Properties in the Layered Titanates A2Ti4O9 (A = K, H) and in Nanosheets Derived by Chemical Exfoliation

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journal contribution
posted on 09.02.2010, 00:00 by Mark R. Allen, Arthur Thibert, Erwin M. Sabio, Nigel D. Browning, Delmar S. Larsen, Frank E. Osterloh
K2Ti4O9 has been known as a photocatalyst for the oxidation of methanol under UV irradiation. Here we study the evolution of morphology, optical, and photocatalytic properties of this titanate as it is converted into H2Ti4O9 and subsequently exfoliated into individual tetrabutylammonium (TBA)-supported [Ti4O9]2- nanosheets. We find that proton exchange and exfoliation are accompanied by a red shift of the optical absorption edge and fluorescence maximum, suggesting a reduction of the bandgap in the series K2Ti4O9 (3.54 eV), H2Ti4O9 (3.25 eV), TBA2Ti4O9 (3.00 eV). Neither compound is active for photochemical water splitting, even after photochemical deposition of platinum nanoparticles. However, in aqueous methanol, all platinated compounds are moderately active for H2 evolution upon bandgap irradiation, and in 0.01 M AgNO3, they all produce moderate quantities of O2. From the onset potentials for photoelectrochemical methanol oxidation, the values for the valence band edges at pH = 7 are deduced to lie between −0.23 and −0.53 V (NHE) for the nonplatinated compounds, and at +0.08 V and −0.30 V for the platinated compounds. This Pt-induced decrease of negative charge on the titanates is likely due to Fermi level equilibration of metal and semiconductor. Its effect can also be seen in a shift of the onset potentials for electrochemical water oxidation, as measured by cyclic voltammetry. Transient absorption data reveal that photogenerated electrons become trapped in mid band gap states, from which they decay exponentially with a time-constant of 43.67 ± 0.28 ms, much slower than observed for 68 ± 1 ns for TiO2 nanocrystals (Degussa, P25).