Time-Dependent Photoluminescence of Nanostructured Anatase TiO2 and the Role of Bulk and Surface Processes

Robert Brüninghoff, Kasper Wenderich, J.P. Korterik, Bastian Timo Mei, Guido Mul, A. Huijser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
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TiO2 is one of the most attractive photocatalysts, with applications in water splitting, wastewater treatment, and air purification. Understanding the fundamentals of the functioning of TiO2 requires knowledge of the nature and dynamics of photo-induced excitons and charge carriers. Although photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy can provide important fundamental insights, photophysical mechanisms are still under debate. To address this problem, the aim of the present work is to investigate the evolution of the PL spectrum in time of nanostructured anatase TiO2 thin films and the nature of associated processes, at room temperature and in aqueous media closely resembling photocatalytic conditions. We show that the PL spectrum of commonly used nanostructured anatase TiO2 thin films in aqueous media is time-dependent, with pH-dependent broadening at the low energy side of the spectrum in time. By global analysis of the spectrotemporal PL behavior and the effect of addition of NaCl at neutral and mildly acidic conditions, we show that this spectral development is due to an increasing contribution of processes sensitive to surface termination relative to bulk processes to the PL in time. The time-dependent PL spectrum and dynamics can be assigned to the recombination of mobile electrons populating the conduction band or shallow traps with immobile hole polarons in deep traps and motion of electrons from the nanoparticle bulk toward the depletion layer/surface in ca. 1 ns. This directionality likely plays an important role in the photocatalytic performance of nanostructured anatase TiO2 and effects of ions such as chloride in aqueous media. Control of the directional motion of electrons and suppression of surface charge recombination via surface engineering show promise to further increase the photocatalytic activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26653-26661
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of physical chemistry C
Issue number43
Early online date11 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2019


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