Morphology, Optical Properties and Photocatalytic Activity of Photo- and Plasma-Deposited Au and Au/Ag Core/Shell Nanoparticles on Titania Layers
Titania is a promising material for numerous photocatalytic reactions such as water splitting and the degradation of organic compounds (e.g., methanol, phenol). Its catalytic performance can be significantly increased by the addition of co-catalysts. In this study, Au and Au/Ag nanoparticles were deposited onto mesoporous titania thin films using photo-deposition (Au) and magnetron-sputtering (Au and Au/Ag). All samples underwent comprehensive structural characterization by grazing incidence X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Nanoparticle distributions and nanoparticle size distributions were correlated to the deposition methods. Light absorption measurements showed features related to diffuse scattering, the band gap of titania and the local surface plasmon resonance of the noble metal nanoparticles. Further, the photocatalytic activities were measured using methanol as a hole scavenger. All nanoparticle-decorated thin films showed significant performance increases in hydrogen evolution under UV illumination compared to pure titania, with an evolution rate of up to 372 μL H2 h−1 cm−2 representing a promising approximately 12-fold increase compared to pure titania.