The development of novel Ti and Nb-based semiconductors to be applied as photocatalysts for the production of the solar fuels methane and hydrogen from CO2 photoreduction and water splitting, respectively, is proposed in this research project.Lamellar potassium titanate (K2Ti4O9) and potassium niobate (K4Nb6O17) will be the precursor materials employed in the syntheses of the new photocatalysts. Despite the wide chemical and structural versatilities of layered materials, which make them suitable for several applications, they have not been extensively explored in photocatalytic processes so far.Their expansible features will be exploited for the introduction of titanium dioxide (TiO2) pillars in the interlamellar spaces, creating new photoactive sites as well as increasing the surface area for the enhancement of the materials photocatalytic activities. Due to the relative high band gap energy of TiO2 pillars (3.2 eV), which hinders the absorption of visible radiation, the pillared solids will also be doped with nanoparticles of cadmium sulfide, copper oxide or platinum, for absorption of a wider range of the solar spectrum. The new photocatalysts will be tested on CO2 photoreduction for methane generation and water splitting for hydrogen gas production in a reactor developed at our laboratory and the amount of generated products will be detected by gas chromatography.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: