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A dual soft-templating method was developed to produce highly crystalline and mesoporous TiO2-SiO2 nanocomposites. Pluronic F127 as the structure-directing agent and pure cellulose as the surface area modifier were used as the templating media. While Pluronic F127 served as the sacrificing media for generating a mesoporous structure in an acidic pH, cellulose templating helped to increase the specific surface area without affecting the mesoporosity of the TiO2-SiO2 nanostructures. Calcination at elevated temperature removed all the organics and formed pure inorganic TiO2-SiO2 composites as revealed by TGA and FTIR analyses. An optimum amount of SiO2 insertion in the TiO2 matrix increased the thermal stability of the crystalline anatase phase. BET surface area measurement along with low angle XRD revealed the formation of a mesoporous structure in the composites. The photocatalytic activity was evaluated by the degradation of Rhodamine B, Methylene Blue, and 4-Nitrophenol as the model pollutants under solar light irradiation, where the superior photo-degradation activity of Pluronic F127/cellulose templated TiO2-SiO2 was observed compared to pure Pluronic templated composite and commercial Evonik P25 TiO2. The higher photocatalytic activity was achieved due to the higher thermal stability of the nanocrystalline anatase phase, the mesoporosity, and the higher specific surface area.
Publication date: 
12 Jul 2022

Sudipto Pal, Antonietta Taurino, Massimo Catalano, Antonio Licciulli

Biblio References: 
Volume: 12 Issue: 7 Pages: 770