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Ta2O5 Nanotubes Obtained by Anodization: Effect of Thermal Treatment on the Photocatalytic Activity for Hydrogen Production

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journal contribution
posted on 05.07.2012, 00:00 by Renato V. Gonçalves, Pedro Migowski, Heberton Wender, Dario Eberhardt, Daniel E. Weibel, Flávia C. Sonaglio, Maximiliano J. M. Zapata, Jairton Dupont, Adriano F. Feil, Sergio R. Teixeira
Freestanding tantalum oxide nanotubes (Ta2O5 NTs) were easily fabricated by controlling only the electrolyte temperature during anodization in a sulfuric acid solution. When the electrolyte temperature decreased, the adherence of NTs to the Ta substrate increased. High electrolyte temperatures facilitated formation of freestanding NTs. Thermal treatment of the freestanding Ta2O5 NTs below 750 °C resulted in an amorphous structure. The orthorhombic crystalline phase appeared only at temperatures higher than 750 °C. The effect of thermal treatment on the crystalline structure and morphology of Ta2O5 NTs showed that the NTs retained their tubular shape up to 800 °C. In addition, it was shown that the crystallinity of the NTs was enhanced from 11% to 34% by increasing the treatment time for the NTs at 800 °C from 0.5 to 1 h. High crystallinity and low surface contamination increased the photocatalytic activity of the freestanding NTs for hydrogen production by water splitting using a water/ethanol solution under UV radiation. The sample annealed at 800 °C for 1 h showed the highest photocatalytic activity for hydrogen generation. Additionally, changes to the physicochemical properties of the surface and bulk of the photocatalyst showed decreased selectivity for minor products (C2H4 and C2H6).