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J Phys Chem B. 2005 Mar 24;109(11):5143-9.

Visible-light-induced photocatalytic degradation of 4-chlorophenol and phenolic compounds in aqueous suspension of pure titania: demonstrating the existence of a surface-complex-mediated path.

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  • 1School of Environmental Science and Engineering and Department of Chemistry, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang 790-784, Korea.


The visible-light-induced degradation reaction of 4-chlorophenol (4-CP) was investigated in aqueous suspension of pure TiO2. Contrary to common expectations, 4-CP could be degraded under visible illumination (lambda > 420 nm), generating chlorides and CO2 concomitantly. The observed visible reactivity was not due to the presence of trace UV light since the visible-light-induced reactions exhibited behaviors distinguished from those of UV-induced reactions. Dichloroacetate could not be degraded under visible light, whereas it degraded with a much faster rate than 4-CP under UV irradiation. The addition of tert-butyl alcohol, a common OH radical scavenger, did not affect the visible reactivity of 4-CP, which indicates that OH radicals are not involved. Other phenolic compounds such as phenol and 2,4-dichlorophenol were similarly degraded under visible light. The surface complexation between phenolic compounds and TiO2 appears to be responsible for the visible light reactivity. Diffuse reflectance UV-vis spectra showed that 4-CP adsorbed on TiO2 powder induced visible light absorption. The visible light reactivity among several TiO2 samples was apparently correlated with the surface area of TiO2. The visible-light-induced photocurrents on a TiO2 electrode could be obtained only in the presence of 4-CP. It is proposed that a direct electron transfer from surface-complexed phenol to the conduction band of TiO2 upon absorbing visible light (through ligand-to-metal charge transfer) initiates the oxidative degradation of phenolic compounds. When the surface complex formation was hindered by surface fluorination, surface platinization, and high pH, the visible-light-induced degradation of 4-CP was inhibited. The evidence of visible-light-induced reactions and the experimental conditions affecting the visible reactivity were discussed in detail.

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