Environmental science & technology

Plasma surface modified TiO2 nanoparticles: improved photocatalytic oxidation of gaseous m-xylene.

PMID 21761865


Titanium dioxide (TiO(2)) is a preferred catalyst for photocatalytic oxidation of many air pollutants. In an effort to enhance its photocatalytic activity, TiO(2) was modified by pulsed plasma treatment. In this work, TiO(2) nanoparticles, coated on a glass plate, were treated with a plasma discharge of hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO) gas. By appropriate adjustment of discharge conditions, it was discovered that the TiO(2) particles can be either directly fluorinated (Ti-F) or coated with thin perfluorocarbon films (C-F). Specifically, under relatively high power input, the plasma deposition process favored direct surface fluorination. The extent of Ti-F formation increased with increasing power input. In contrast, at lower average power inputs, perfluorocarbon films are deposited on the surface of the TiO(2) particles. The plasma surface modified TiO(2) nanoparticles were subsequently employed as catalysts in the photocatalytic oxidation of m-xylene in air, as carried out inside a batch reactor with closed loop constant gas circulation. Both types of modified TiO(2) were significantly more catalytically active than that of the unmodified particles. For example, the rate constant of m-xylene degradation was increased from 0.012 min(-1) with untreated TiO(2) to 0.074 min(-1) with fluorinated TiO(2). Although it is not possible to provide unequivocal reasons for this increased photocatalytic activity, it is noted that the plasma surface treatment converted the TiO(2) from hydrophilic to highly hydrophobic, which would provide more facile catalyst adsorption of the xylene from the flowing air. Also, based on literature reports, the use of fluorinated TiO(2) reduces electron-hole recombination rates, thus increasing the photocatalytic activity.