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Mesoporous TiO2 Single Crystals: Facile Shape‑, Size‑, and Phase-Controlled Growth and Efficient Photocatalytic Performance

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journal contribution
posted on 13.11.2013, 00:00 by Xiaoli Zheng, Qin Kuang, Keyou Yan, Yongcai Qiu, Jianhang Qiu, Shihe Yang
In this work, we have succeeded in preparing rutile and anatase TiO2 mesoporous single crystals with diverse morphologies in a controllable fashion by a simple silica-templated hydrothermal method. A simple in-template crystal growth process was put forward, which involved heterogeneous crystal nucleation and oriented growth within the template, a sheer spectator, and an excluded volume, i.e., crystal growth by faithful negative replication of the silica template. A series of mesoporous single-crystal structures, including rutile mesoporous TiO2 nanorods with tunable sizes and anatase mesoporous TiO2 nanosheets with dominant {001} facets, have been synthesized to demonstrate the versatility of the strategy. The morphology, size, and phase of the TiO2 mesoporous single crystals can be tuned easily by varying the external conditions such as the hydrohalic acid condition, seed density, and temperature rather than by the silica template, which merely serves for faithful negative replication but without interfering in the crystallization process. To demonstrate the application value of such TiO2 mesoporous single crystals, photocatalytic activity was tested. The resultant TiO2 mesoporous single crystals exhibited remarkable photocatalytic performance on hydrogen evolution and degradation of methyl orange due to their increased surface area, single-crystal nature, and the exposure of reactive crystal facets coupled with the three-dimensionally connected mesoporous architecture. It was found that {110} facets of rutile mesoporous single crystals can be considered essentially as reductive sites with a key role in the photoreduction, while {001} facets of anatase mesoporous single crystals provided oxidation sites in the oxidative process. Such shape- and size-controlled rutile and anatase mesoporous TiO2 single crystals hold great promise for building energy conversion devices, and the simple solution-based hydrothermal method is extendable to the synthesis of other mesoporous single crystals beyond TiO2.