School of Engineering
Australian Research Council.
ARC Number : DP170104264
Metals and metal oxides are widely used as photo/electro-catalysts for environmental remediation. However, there are many issues related to these metal-based catalysts for practical applications, such as high cost and detrimental environmental impact due to metal leaching. Carbon-based catalysts have the potential to overcome these limitations. In this study, monodisperse nitrogen-doped carbon nanospheres (NCs) were synthesized and loaded onto graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4, GCN) via a facile hydrothermal method for photocatalytic removal of sulfachloropyridazine (SCP). The prepared metal-free GCN-NC exhibited remarkably enhanced efficiency in SCP degradation. The nitrogen content in NC critically influences the physicochemical properties and performances of the resultant hybrids. The optimum nitrogen doping concentration was identified at 6.0 wt%. The SCP removal rates can be improved by a factor of 4.7 and 3.2, under UV and visible lights, by the GCN-NC composite due to the enhanced charge mobility and visible light harvesting. The mechanism of the improved photocatalytic performance and band structure alternation were further investigated by density functional theory (DFT) calculations. The DFT results confirm the high capability of the GCN-NC hybrids to activate the electron–hole pairs by reducing the band gap energy and efficiently separating electron/hole pairs. Superoxide and hydroxyl radicals are subsequently produced, leading to the efficient SCP removal.
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