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Sci Rep. 2015 Jun 5;5:10714. doi: 10.1038/srep10714.

Controllable Synthesis and Tunable Photocatalytic Properties of Ti(3+)-doped TiO2.

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Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 3200 North Cramer Street, Milwaukee, WI 53211, USA.


Photocatalysts show great potential in environmental remediation and water splitting using either artificial or natural light. Titanium dioxide (TiO2)-based photocatalysts are studied most frequently because they are stable, non-toxic, readily available, and highly efficient. However, the relatively wide band gap of TiO2 significantly limits its use under visible light or solar light. We herein report a facile route for controllable synthesis of Ti(3+)-doped TiO2 with tunable photocatalytic properties using a hydrothermal method with varying amounts of reductant, i.e., sodium borohydride (NaBH4). The resulting TiO2 showed color changes from light yellow, light grey, to dark grey with the increasing amount of NaBH4. The present method can controllably and effectively reduce Ti(4+) on the surface of TiO2 and induce partial transformation of anatase TiO2 to rutile TiO2, with the evolution of nanoparticles into hierarchical structures attributable to a high pressure and strong alkali environment in the synthesis atmosphere; in this way, the photocatalytic activity of Ti(3+)-doped TiO2 under visible-light can be tuned. The as-developed strategy may open up a new avenue for designing and functionalizing TiO2 materials for enhancing visible light absorption, narrowing band gap, and improving photocatalytic activity.

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