Significance of a noble metal nanolayer on the UV and visible light photocatalytic activity of anatase TiO2 thin films grown from a scalable PECVD/PVD approach


K. Baba, S. Bulou, M. Quesada-Gonzalez, S. Bonot, D. Collard, N. D. Boscher, and P. Choquet


ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, vol. 9, no. 47, pp. 41200-41209, 2017


UV and visible light photocatalytic composite Pt and Au-TiO2 coatings have been deposited on silicon and glass substrates at low temperature using a hybrid ECWR-PECVD/MS-PVD process. Methylene blue, stearic acid and sulfamethoxazole were used as dye, organic and antibiotic model pollutants respectively to demonstrate the efficiency of these nanocomposite coatings for water decontamination or self-cleaning surfaces applications. Raman investigations revealed the formation of anatase polymorph of TiO2 in all synthesised coatings with a shifting of the main vibrational mode peak to higher wavenumber in the case of Au-TiO2 coating, indicating an increase number of crystalline defects within this coating. Due to the difference of the chemical potentials of each of the investigated noble metals, the sputtered metal layers exhibit different morphology. Pt sputtered atoms, with high surface adhesion, promote formation of a smooth 2D layer. On the other hand, Au sputtered atoms with higher cohesive forces promote the formation of 5-10 nm nanoparticles. As a result, surface plasmon resonance phenomenon was observed in the Au-TiO2 coatings. UV photoactivity of the nanocomposite coatings was enhanced 1.5 to 3 times and 1.3 times for methylene blue and stearic acid, respectively, thanks to the enhancement of electron trapping in the noble metal layer. This electron trapping phenomenon is higher in the Pt-TiO2 coating because of its larger work function. On the other hand, the enhancement of the visible photoactivity was more pronounced (3 and 7 times for methylene blue and stearic acid respectively) in the case of Au-TiO2 thanks to the surface plasmon resonance. Finally, these nanocomposite TiO2 coatings exhibited also a good ability for the degradation of antibiotics usually found in wastewater such as sulfamethoxazole. However, a complementary test have showed an increase of the toxicity of the liquid medium after photocatalysis, which could be due the presence of sulfamethoxazole’s transformation by-products. 



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