“Grain boundary” engineering in electrospun ZnO nanostructures

Electrospun ZnO nanofibers have received increased attention as photocatalysts owing to their potential for incredible performance. However, uncertainty still exists in determining the correlation between grain boundaries and photocatalytic activity.

Dr Anitha Senthamizhanm, Dr Brabu Balusamy and Dr Zeynep Aytac presented a research work to investigate the temperature induced structural evolution of Zinc oxide nanostructures and how the growth of grains and grain boundaries affect their performance towards photodegradation of dyes under the supervision of Assoc. Prof Tamer Uyar. The present research dictates the analysis of the structural evolution of ZnO nanofibers under temperatures ranging from 500 ºC to 1000 ºC, prepared by an efficient and cost effective method called, electrospinning.

From the observed results, one might be able to clearly perceive and develop ZnO nanofibers with controlled properties through grain boundary engineering. An important consideration to be made here is the non-correlation of the effect from surface area and defect related emissions on the photocatalytic performance. In contrary, efforts have been made to apprehend the effect of grain boundaries, their arrangement and their correlation in photoluminescence properties. Due to the grain surfaces being defect rich, authors strongly believe that engineering the grain surface provide a scope to improve photocatalytic performance. Apart from the attained morphologies of electrospun ZnO, the luminescence of ZnO is also severely affected by grain boundaries. Extensive studies have been carried out to understand the effect of grain boundary on the degradation efficiency of dye pollutant, in addition to features including morphology, high surface area and defects. Therefore, effective thought has been put into engineering the grain boundaries to convert ZnO nanofibers into a promising photocatalyst.

The complete study has been published as an Outside Front Cover in CrystEngComm, 2016,18, 6341-6351 and can be accessed at the following address: http://pubs.rsc.org/-/content/articlelanding/2016/ce/c6ce00693k

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