Preparation of Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO composite and application of solar energy in photocatalytic degradation of organic dyes

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The Er3+:Y3Al5O12, which is able to transform the visible light from solar light into ultraviolet light as an upconversion luminescence agent, was prepared by nitrate-citrate acid and heat-treated method. And then, a novel photocatalyst, Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO composite, which could effectively utilize the solar energy, was synthesized by ultrasonic dispersion and liquids boil method. In succession, X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were used to characterize the structural morphology of the Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO composite. And the degradation performances were also tested by UV-vis spectrum and Ion chromatograph. To inspect the photocatalytic activity of Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO composite, the Azo Fuchsine dye as target organic pollutant was degraded under solar light irradiation. The key impact parameters on the photocatalytic activity of Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO such as Ti/Zn molar ratio, heat-treated temperature and heat-treated time were studied. Otherwise, the effects of dye initial concentration, Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO, solar light irradiation time and other organic dyes were also investigated. It was found that the photocatalytic activity of Er3+:Y3Al5O12/TiO2-ZnO composite was superior to TiO2-ZnO powder in the similar system. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 697–704, 2013