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Keywords:

  • electrochemistry;
  • heterogeneous catalysis;
  • nanostructures;
  • photochemistry;
  • titanium dioxide

Abstract

Several of the multiple applications of titanium dioxide nanomaterials are directly related to the introduction or generation of charge carriers in the oxide. Thus, electrochemistry plays a central role in the understanding of the factors that must be controlled for the optimization of the material for each application. Herein, the main conceptual tools needed to address the study of the electrochemical properties of TiO2 nanostructured electrodes are reviewed, as well as the electrochemical methods to prepare and modify them. Particular attention is paid to the dark electrochemical response of these nanomaterials and its direct connection with the TiO2 electronic structure, interfacial area and grain boundary density. The physical bases for the generation of currents under illumination are also presented. Emphasis is placed on the fact that the kinetics of charge-carrier transfer to solution determines the sign and value of the photocurrent. Furthermore, methods for extracting kinetic information from open-circuit potential and photocurrent measurements are briefly presented. Some aspects of the combination of electrochemical and spectroscopic measurements are also dealt with. Finally, some of the applications of TiO2 nanostructured samples derived from their electrochemical properties are concisely reviewed. Particular attention is paid to photocatalytic processes and, to a lesser extent, to photosynthetic reactions as well as to applications related to energy from the aspects of both saving (electrochromic layers) and accumulation (batteries). The use of TiO2 nanomaterials in solar cells is not covered, as a number of reviews have been published addressing this issue.