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Controlling the surface chemistry of graphene oxide: Key towards efficient ZnO-GO photocatalysts

Catalysis Today 2020

Graphene oxide (GO) and related materials are widely reported to enhance the photocatalytic activity of zinc oxide. However, the origin of the observed performance improvements remains elusive and studies contributing to a deeper understanding of this critical issue are largely missing. In this work, we have prepared a set of benchmark ZnO-GO hybrid materials in order to systematically put under closer scrutiny the influence of the surface chemistry of GO on the photocatalytic degradation of methylene blue. The set of ZnO-GO hybrids has been synthesized in an ultrasonication process involving ZnO nanoparticles obtained in a microwave synthesis process and GO with three distinct oxidation degrees, employed in three different loading fractions. Structural and physical-chemical characterization by XRD, FTIR, Raman, UV–vis, photoluminescence and spectroscopy and XPS, consistently demonstrate the importance of the surface chemistry of GO for establishing photo-induced charge-transfer interface interactions with ZnO, facilitating the enhancement of the catalytic activity of the ZnO-GO catalyst. Optimized interface interactions thus enabled the design of a ZnO-GO catalyst exhibiting a conversion rate of 80% obtained in a time of 70 min and at a catalyst concentration of only 0.045 mg/mL.

Integrating Water-Soluble Polythiophene With Transition Metal Dichalcogenides for Managing Photoinduced Processes

ACS Appl Mater. Interfaces 2019, 11(6), pp 5947-5956

Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) attract increased attention for the development of donor-acceptor materials enabling improved light harvesting and optoelectronic applications. The development of novel donor-acceptor nanoensembles consisting of poly(3-thiophene sodium acetate) and ammonium functionalized MoS2 and WS2 was accomplished, while photoelectrochemical cells were fabricated and examined. Attractive interactions between the negatively charged carboxylate anion on the polythiophene backbone and the positively charged ammonium moieties on the TMDs enabled in a controlled way and in aqueous dispersions the electrostatic association of two species, evidenced upon titration experiments. A progressive quenching of the characteristic fluorescence emission of the polythiophene derivative at 555 nm revealed photoinduced intra-ensemble energy and/or electron transfer from the …

Nanoscale J-aggregates of poly (3-hexylthiophene): Key to electronic interface interactions with graphene oxide as revealed by KPFM

Nanoscale 2019, 11, 11202-11208

The performance of organic thin film optoelectronic devices strongly relies on the nanoscale aggregate structure of the employed conjugated polymer. Their impact on electronic interface interactions with adjacent layers of graphene, widely reported to improve the device characteristics, yet remains an open issue, which needs to be addressed by an appropriate benchmark system. Here, we prepared discrete ensembles of poly(3-hexylthiophene) nanoparticles and graphene oxide sheets (P3HTNPs–GO) with well defined aggregate structures of either J- or H- type and imaged their photogenerated charge transfer dynamics across their interface by Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM). A distinctive inversion of the sign of the surface potential and surface photovoltage (SPV) demonstrates that J-aggregates are decisive for establishing charge transfer interactions with GO. These enable efficient injection of …

Capacitive and charge transfer effects of single‐walled carbon nanotubes in TiO2 electrodes

ChemPhysChem 2019, 20, 838-847

The transfer of nanoscale properties from single‐walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) to macroscopic systems is a topic of intense research. In particular, inorganic composites of SWCNTs and metal oxide semiconductors are being investigated for applications in electronics, energy devices, photocatalysis, and electroanalysis. In this work, a commercial SWCNT material is separated into fractions containing different conformations. The liquid fractions show clear variations in their optical absorbance spectra, indicating differences in the metallic/semiconducting character and the diameter of the SWCNTs. Also, changes in the surface chemistry and the electrical resistance are evidenced in SWCNT solid films. The starting SWCNT sample and the fractions as well are used to prepare hybrid electrodes with titanium dioxide (SWCNT/TiO2). Raman spectroscopy reflects the optoelectronic properties of SWCNTs in the SWCNT/TiO2electrodes, while the electrochemical behavior is studied by cyclic voltammetry. A selective development of charge transfer characteristics and double‐layer behavior is achieved through the suitable choice of SWCNT fractions.

Photoactivity improvement of TiO2 electrodes by thin hole transport layers of reduced graphene oxide

Electrochimica Acta,  2019, 298,  Pages 279-287

Nanostructured TiO2 and graphene-based materials constitute components of actual interest in devices related to solar energy conversion and storage. In this work, we show that a thin layer of electrochemically reduced graphene oxide (ECrGO), covering nanostructured TiO2 photoelectrodes, can significantly improve the photoactivity. In order to understand the working principle, ECrGO/TiO2 photoelectrodes with different ECrGO thicknesses were prepared and studied by a set of photoelectrochemical measurements. Methanol in alkaline conditions was employed as effective hole acceptor probe to elucidate the electronic phenomena in the electrode layers and interfaces. These studies underline the hole accepting properties of ECrGO and reveal the formation of a p-n junction at the interface between ECrGO and TiO2. It is shown for the first time that the resulting space charge region of about 10 nm defines the …

Conjugated Polymer Nanoparticle-Graphene Oxide Charge-Transfer ComplexesAdvanced Functional Materials


Advanced Functional Materials banner

The game‐changing role of graphene oxide (GO) in tuning the excitonic behavior of conjugated polymer nanoparticles is described for the first time. This is demonstrated by using poly(3‐hexylthiophene) (P3HT) as a benchmark conjugated polymer and employing an in situ reprecipitation approach resulting in P3HT nanoparticles (P3HTNPs) with sizes of 50–100 nm in intimate contact with GO. During the self‐assembly process, GO changes the crystalline packing of P3HT chains in the forming P3HTNPs from H to H/J aggregates exhibiting exciton coupling constants as low as 2 meV, indicating favorable charge separation along the P3HT chains. Concomitantly, π–π interface interactions between the P3HTNPs and GO sheets are established resulting in the creation of P3HTNPs–GO charge‐transfer complexes whose energy bandgaps are lowered by up to 0.5 eV. Moreover, their optoelectronic properties, preestablished in the liquid phase, are retained when processed into thin films from the stable aqueous dispersions, thus eliminating the critical dependency on external processing parameters. These results can be transferred to other types of conjugated polymers. Combined with the possibility of employing water based “green” processing technologies, charge‐transfer complexes of conjugated polymer nanoparticles and GO open new pathways for the fabrication of improved optoelectronic thin film devices.

Interfacing transition metal dichalcogenides with carbon nan-odots for managing photoinduced energy and charge-transfer processes

Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018, 140 (41), pp 13488–13496


Journal of the American Chemical Society


Exfoliated semiconducting MoS2 and WS2 were covalently functionalized with 1,2-dithiolane-modified carbon nanodots (CNDs). The newly synthesized CND-MoS2 and CND-WS2 hybrids were characterized by spectroscopic, thermal and elec-tron microscopy imaging methods. Based on electronic absorption and fluorescence emission spectroscopy, modulation of the optoelectronic properties of TMDs by interfacing with CNDs was accomplished. Electrochemical studies revealed facile oxidation of MoS2 over WS2 in the examined hybrids, suggesting it to be better electron donor. Excited state events, inves-tigated by femtosecond transient absorption spectroscopic studies, revealed ultrafast energy transfer from photoexcited CNDs to both MoS2 and WS2. Interestingly, upon MoS2 photoexcitation charge transfer from an exciton dissociation path of MoS2 to CNDs, within CND-MoS2, was observed. However, such …