Journal of Nanomaterials

Journal of Nanomaterials / 2020 / Article
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Defect Engineering in Nanomaterials for Photocatalysis and Electrocatalysis

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Volume 2020 |Article ID 8461543 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8461543

Wei Guan, Kuang He, Jianwei Du, Yong Wen, Mingshan Li, Li Zhuo, Rui Yang, Kaiming Li, "Improvement of Photocatalytic Performance for the g-C3N4/MoS2 Composite Used for Hypophosphite Oxidation", Journal of Nanomaterials, vol. 2020, Article ID 8461543, 9 pages, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8461543

Improvement of Photocatalytic Performance for the g-C3N4/MoS2 Composite Used for Hypophosphite Oxidation

Academic Editor: Changfa Guo
Received24 Jul 2020
Revised21 Aug 2020
Accepted26 Aug 2020
Published15 Sep 2020

Abstract

The synthesized g-C3N4/MoS2 composite was a high-efficiency photocatalytic for hypophosphite oxidation. In this work, a stable and cheap g-C3N4 worked as the chelating agent and combined with the MoS2 materials. The structures of the fabricated g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst were characterized by some methods including X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and X-ray photoelectron spectra (XPS). Moreover, the photocatalytic performances of various photocatalysts were measured by analyzing the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite under visible light irradiation and the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite using the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst which was 93.45%. According to the results, the g-C3N4/MoS2 composite showed a promising photocatalytic performance for hypophosphite oxidation. The improved photocatalytic performance for hypophosphite oxidation was due to the effective charge separation analyzed by the photoluminescence (PL) emission spectra. The transient photocurrent response measurement indicated that the g-C3N4/MoS2 composites (2.5 μA cm–2) were 10 times improved photocurrent intensity and 2 times improved photocurrent intensity comparing with the pure g-C3N4 (0.25 μA cm–2) and MoS2 (1.25 μA cm–2), respectively. The photocatalytic mechanism of hypophosphite oxidation was analyzed by adding some scavengers, and the recycle experiments indicated that the g-C3N4/MoS2 composite had a good stability.

1. Introduction

Sodium hypophosphite is the most common reducing agent during the electroless plating, generating high concentration of hypophosphite wastewater [1, 2]. The main components of plating wastewater are hypophosphite and phosphite, which should be further treatment before discharging into the river or lake avoiding the problem of eutrophication. Due to the high solubility of hypophosphite and phosphite, it is difficult to remove the contaminants by adding Ca2+ and Fe3+ ions to generate sediment following by precipitation [3, 4]. Therefore, hypophosphite and phosphite should be oxidized to phosphate, which is easy to recover with the precipitation method. At the same time, the structure of hypophosphite and phosphite is relatively stable, and it is difficult to oxidize them by ordinary oxidation technology [5], so the technology with strong oxidation ability is needed to solve the problem of hypophosphite oxidation.

Semiconductor photocatalytic technology is a new kind of environmental pollutant reduction technology [6]. The photocatalytic oxidation treatment has the characteristics of easy to handle, no secondary pollution, and a broad potential application [7]. In particular, TiO2, as a photocatalytic material, can effectively catalyze the degradation of pollutants in water. It has the advantages of chemical stability, high catalytic activity, good harmlessness to human body, low reaction conditions, and mild selectivity, which has been widely used in the treatment of pollutants that are difficult to be degraded [8]. However, a large band gap (3.2 eV) of TiO2 indicates that it can only absorb ultraviolet light (only about 3–5% of total sunlight), which largely inhabits its wide application [9, 10]. So, it is necessary to synthesize a novel photocatalyst that can be responded under visible light irradiation.

Recently, a two-dimensional (2D) conjugated polymer, metal-free graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) has caused much attention due to its suitable band gap of 2.7 eV, which can be responded under visible light irradiation [11, 12]. In addition, the excellent structural stability of g-C3N4 is widely used in photocatalytic conversion of solar energy and purification of environmental pollutants [13]. Nevertheless, there are some shortcomings for g-C3N4 as a photocatalyst, such as low utilization rate of light and high recombination rate of photon-generated carrier [14, 15]. Some methods such as structure modification [16], semiconductors coupling [17], elements, and molecular doping [18, 19] were used to modify the g-C3N4 materials to improve the photocatalytic performance of g-C3N4.

Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), a 2D metal sulfide material, has the properties of excellent stability and low band gap of 1.2-1.9 eV, which can be easily responded under visible light irradiation and worked as photocatalyst [20, 21]. The valence band electrons can detour into the conduction band under visible light irradiation and leave holes, thus it will generate electron-hole pairs [22]. Due to the small band gap of MoS2, it can be used as a catalyst and cocatalyst, especially doped on some materials, and its photocatalytic performance has been greatly improved [23], which has been widely used in photocatalytic hydrogen evolution and the degradation of organic pollutants [2426]. The photogenerated electrons of semiconductors could transfer through these noble metals rapidly, and the lifetime of these electrons and holes was prolonged for the noble metal-semiconductor heterostructure materials. Therefore, the prepared g-C3N4/MoS2 composite photocatalyst is beneficial to achieve relatively large specific surface area with abundant active sites for the oxidation reactions.

Herein, a g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was prepared and shown an improved photocatalytic performance for hypophosphite oxidation under visible light irradiation. The structures of the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and X-ray photoelectron spectra (XPS). Moreover, the separation mechanism of generated electron-hole pairs was investigated by photoluminescence (PL) emission spectra, and the photocurrent intensity was analyzed by photoluminescence emission spectra. The reactive species generated during the oxidation process were proved by the quenching experiment. The g-C3N4/MoS2 composite was stable after recycle experiments.

2. Experimental

2.1. Chemicals

Melamine (C3H6N6), absolute methanol (CH3OH), sodium molybdate (Na2MoO4·2H2O), thioacetamide (C2H5NS), sodium hypophosphite (NaH2PO2), sodium hydroxide (NaOH), sulfuric acid (H2SO4), sodium sulfate (Na2SO4), and isopropanol ((CH3)2CHOH) were purchased from Sinopharm Chemical Reagent Co., Ltd. (Beijing, China). All the chemical reagents were analytical grade, and the solutions were prepared using Milli-Q water (Millipore, 18.2 MΩ cm).

2.2. Preparation of g-C3N4

The g-C3N4 was prepared as follows: added 5 g melamine into a corundum crucible and then heated at 550°C in a muffle furnace for 2 h to generate a raw g-C3N4. Later, the raw g-C3N4 was dispersed into 50 mL anhydrous methanol and then stirred return for 3 h under 68~70°C. Later, the mixture was dried at 60°C for 12 h under vacuum drying. Finally, cooled down the mixture and grinded with agate mortars, then the yellow g-C3N4 photocatalyst was synthesized [27].

2.3. Synthesis of g-C3N4/MoS2 Composite

The g-C3N4/MoS2 heterojunction was synthesized through the hydrothermal method and shown the following: dissolved 70 mg Na2MoO4·2H2O and 140 mg C2H5NS into 20 mL deionized water to form a clear solution. Then, added 20 mg g-C3N4 into the above solution and ultrasound for 45 minutes to generate suspension solution. After that, added 50 ml suspension solution into the teflon reactor and continuously heated at 220°C for 24 h in the drying oven. When the reaction was finished, washed the product with deionized water and anhydrous ethanol for 3 times and centrifugal separation. Finally, the product was heated at 60°C in a vacuum drying oven for 24 h [28].

2.4. Analysis

The concentration of hypophosphite was analyzed by ion the chromatography method [29]. The surface morphology of the samples was analyzed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM, Quanta FEG 250). The phase structure of the sample was analyzed by X-ray diffraction (XRD, bruker-d8 Advanc type). The surface properties and chemical states of the sample were analyzed by the X-ray photoelectron spectra (XPS, ULVAC-PHI, INC). The specific surface area and pore size were calculated based on the N2 physisorption isotherms. At the same time, the photoluminescence spectra were measured with a F-4500 fluorescence (PL) spectrometer, and the photocurrents were measured on a CHI 660B electrochemical system.

2.5. Analysis of Photocatalytic Performance

The photocatalytic performance of the generated photocatalyst was evaluated by the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite under visible light irradiation. During the oxidation process, the light source (35 W) with a 420 nm UV-cutoff filter was placed 12 cm away from the surface of reaction solution. For each photocatalytic experiment, 5 mg photocatalyst was added into the hypophosphite solution (50 ml, 50 mg L−1). Before irradiation reaction, the solution was continuously stirred in the dark for 2 h until the adsorption saturation was reached. A small amount of hypophosphite solution was measured every 15 min, and the change of the hypophosphite concentration solution was measured to evaluate the photocatalytic performance of the prepared photocatalyst. The oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite was measured as follows:

where C0 was the initial concentration of hypophosphite (mg L−1); Ct was the concentration of hypophosphite after irradiation for a certain time t (min).

3. Results and Discussion

3.1. Analysis of Structure and Morphology for Different Materials

XRD patterns of the synthesized photocatalyst were analyzed to characterize the crystalline phases and were shown in Figure 1. Two characteristics peaks were observed at 13.2° and 27.6° for pure g-C3N4 photocatalysts. The characteristics peaks observed at 13.2° and 27.6° were indexed as the (110) plane corresponding to the in-plane structure, and the diffraction peak at 27.6° was corresponded to interlayer stacking of the conjugated aromatic systems [30]. In addition, two characteristics peaks at 32.7° and 56.7° were observed, which were contributed to the (100) and (110) crystal planes of MoS2 (JCPDS No. 37-1492) [31]. According to the results, the formation of g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalysts was successfully synthesized.

The microstructure of the different materials was shown in Figure 2, layered g-C3N4 showed many thin nanosheets with a porous structure (Figure 2(a)), and the pure MoS2 particles showed a flower-like nanostructure with thin nanosheets avoiding the disordered stacking of MoS2 layers (Figure 2(b)). Moreover, the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was mainly composed of rhabditiform crystals, and the shape of the synthesized g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was relatively uniform (Figure 2(c)).

To identify the elements and interaction of as-prepared samples, the XPS spectra of g-C3N4/MoS2 were investigated. As shown in Figure 3(a), the high-resolution XPS spectrum of C 1 s exhibited two peaks at 284.8 and 288.2 eV in the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst assigned to C–C and N=C(–N)2 of g-C3N4, respectively [32]. In the N 1s XPS spectrum (Figure 3(b)), peaks at 398.3, 398.9 and 400.4 eV in the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst were assigned to C–N, tertiary nitrogen N-C3, and C-N-H groups, respectively [33]. The characteristic peaks of 2p1/2 and 2p3/2 orbitals for S2− were observed at 162.9 and 161.9 eV in the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst, respectively (Figure 3(c)) [34]. The Mo 3d XPS spectrum of the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst showed that the two peaks centered at 229.4 and 232.6 eV (Figure 3(d)) assigned to Mo 3d5/2 and Mo 3d3/2, respectively, demonstrating that Mo was in the +4 valence state [35].

3.1.1. Surface Area and Pore Size Distribution

The nitrogen adsorption-desorption isotherms and pore size distribution of different materials were shown in Figure 4. The specific surface area was calculated to be 114.5, 55.4,, and 147.3 m2 g-1 for MoS2, g-C3N4, and g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalysts, respectively (Figure 4(a)). Generally, a catalyst with larger surface area could provide many active sites for adsorption and photodegradation towards organic pollutants, resulting in improving the photodecomposition performance. As a result, g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalysts with higher specific surface area were benefit for improving the photocatalytic oxidation of hypophosphite. Moreover, the pore size distribution of g-C3N4/MoS2 was between 5 and 15 nm, and that of pure MoS2 was mainly in the range of 10–25 nm, while no obvious mesopore structure was observed for g-C3N4 (Figure 4(b)).

3.2. Analysis of Photocatalytic Activity for Different Photocatalysts

The oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite for different photocatalysts was shown in Figure 5. The oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite for pure g-C3N4 indicated the lowest photocatalytic performance (20.87%) due to the fast recombination of photo-generated electrons and holes, and the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite for g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was the highest (93.45%). The photogenerated electrons were transferred from g-C3N4 to MoS2, which could efficiently improve the separate rate of photogenerated electrons and holes. The existence of heterostructure for g-C3N4/MoS2compositelimited the recombination of photogenerated electrons and holes. Therefore, the photocatalytic performance of the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was improved compared with the pure g-C3N4 and MoS2 photocatalyst.

3.3. Analysis of Photoluminescence Emission Spectra and Electrochemical Properties

Enhanced photoactivity performance was ascribed to the fast separation of photo-generated electrons and holes, as confirmed by the photoluminescence technique and transient photocurrent response measurement [36]. According to PL results, the PL spectrum could directly reflect the separation efficiency of photogenerated electron-hole pairs, i.e., the higher intensity of the PL spectrum and the higher recombination rate of photogenerated electron-hole pairs [37, 38]. The PL spectrum of the photocatalyst was shown in Figure 6(a), and all the photocatalysts exhibited a broad emission peak centered at around 460 nm. The PL intensity exhibited the highest value for pure g-C3N4 photocatalyst, while the intensity had become weaker for the g-C3N4/MoS2 composite photocatalyst, which was attributed to the improvement of the electron transport induced by quantum confinement effect. Moreover, for the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst, the interaction for g-C3N4 and MoS2 in the redox potential, it caused the photogenerated electrons transfer from g-C3N4 to MoS2, thus reducing the probability of its recombination with holes. In addition, comparing the pure MoS2, a distinct red shift was shown, indicating that the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalysts were more efficient in light harvesting under visible light irradiation.

In addition, the separation of photoinduced carriers of the composites was clarified by the transient photocurrent response measurement [39]. To confirm superior photoinduced carriers in the composites of the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst, the photocurrent response was evaluated in Na2SO4 electrolyte [40]. As shown in Figure 6(b), when the g-C3N4/MoS2 electrodes were irradiated under visible light, it showed rapid responsive photocurrents. Moreover, comparing with the pure g-C3N4 (0.25 μA cm–2) and MoS2 (1.25 μA cm–2), the g-C3N4/MoS2 composites showed 10 times improved photocurrent intensity and 2 times improved photocurrent intensity, respectively. The photocurrent responses were repeatable during on/off cycles under visible light irradiation.

3.4. Analysis of Stability Performance for the Prepared g-C3N4/MoS2 Photocatalysts

The stability of the prepared g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalysts was an important consideration to evaluate the practical applications through four recycling experiments [41]. After each cycle, all the used photocatalysts were collected together, centrifuged, and washed with distilled water, then dried at 60°C overnight. As shown in Figure 7, the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite in the recycling experiments was 93.45%, 92.43%, 89.89%, and 90.32%, respectively, which indicated that the structure of photocatalyst was stable during the oxidation of hypophosphite. The results of recycling experiments indicated that the prepared g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst had a strong binding force, which effectively reduced the dissolution of the bulk g-C3N4 material during the photocatalytic process. Therefore, the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst had a good stability in the oxidation of hypophosphite.

3.5. Photocatalytic Mechanism of Hypophosphite Oxidation

To analyze the mechanism of photocatalytic oxidation of hypophosphite, the active oxygen species produced under the visible light irradiation were analyzed through the quenching experiment. According to some literature, isopropanol (IPA) worked as the radical quencher for ·OH radical, while the N2 purging was used to reduce the superoxide O2·- radicals [42, 43]. By the ways of adding different scavengers into reaction solutions to remove the corresponding reactive species, the functions of the corresponding reactive species generated in the photocatalytic process was related to the change of the photocatalytic oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite. As shown in Figure 8, the photocatalytic oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite was 93.45% without scavengers. When the IPA was added into reaction solution, and the photocatalytic oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite was decreased to 63%. When N2 was blowing into reaction solution, the photocatalytic oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite was decreased to 46%. According to the results, it was clear that both ·OH and O2·- radicals were the major reactive species in the photocatalytic reaction system for hypophosphite oxidation. Accordingly, the ·OH and O2·- radials had a strong oxidation ability during the photocatalytic oxidation of hypophosphite.

The mechanism of the photocatalytic oxidation of hypophosphite was shown as follows: Firstly, the semiconductor materials (g-C3N4/MoS2) absorbed the visible light, and the electron-hole pairs were generated on the surface of photocatalyst. Then, hydroxyl radical was generated through the oxidation of hydroxyl ions (OH) with holes. In addition, the superoxide anions were also generated by the molecular reduction of O2, which may attribute to the presence of electrons on the surface of the photocatalyst. The reactive species generated in the photocatalytic system were responsible for hypophosphite oxidation. Furthermore, the photogenerated holes were also responsible for the direct oxidation of the hypophosphite.

4. Conclusion

In the photocatalyst system, the composite g-C3N4/MoS2 indicated higher photocatalytic performance comparing with the pure g-C3N4 and MoS2 photocatalyst. The oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite for the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was 93.45%, while the oxidation efficiency of hypophosphite for g-C3N4 and MoS2 were 20.78% and 37.87%, respectively. The mechanism of the improved photocatalytic performance of the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst for hypophosphite oxidation was analyzed by the photoluminescence technique and transient photocurrent response measurement. The recombination rate of photogenerated electron-hole pairs was reduced, which improved the photocatalytic activity. Moreover, the generated active species were responsible for hypophosphite oxidation analyzed by the quenching experiment. OH and O2·- radials were responsible for the oxidation of hypophosphite. The results of recycling experiments indicated that the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst had a good stability for hypophosphite oxidation. Therefore, the g-C3N4/MoS2 photocatalyst was an efficient and promising materials for the application of hypophosphite oxidation under visible light irradiation.

Data Availability

The data used to support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.

Conflicts of Interest

There are no conflicts to declare.

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Ecological Environment Bureau Project of Chongqing (PM-zx555-201911-361); South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, Ministry of Ecological Environment (MEE) Project of Guangzhou (PM-zx703-201904-135); Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou (2017A0103002).

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Copyright © 2020 Wei Guan et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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