CeO2/TiO2 nanobelt heterostructures are synthesized via a cost-effective hydrothermal method. The as-prepared nanocomposites consist of CeO2 nanoparticles assembled on the rough surface of TiO2 nanobelts. In comparison with P25 TiO2 colloids, surface-coarsened TiO2 nanobelts, and CeO2 nanoparticles, the CeO2/TiO2 nanobelt heterostructures exhibit a markedly enhanced photocatalytic activity in the degradation of organic pollutants such as methyl orange (MO) under either UV or visible light irradiation. The enhanced photocatalytic performance is attributed to a novel capture–photodegradation–release mechanism. During the photocatalytic process, MO molecules are captured by CeO2 nanoparticles, degraded by photogenerated free radicals, and then released to the solution. With its high degradation efficiency, broad active light wavelength, and good stability, the CeO2/TiO2 nanobelt heterostructures represent a new effective photocatalyst that is low-cost, recyclable, and will have wide application in photodegradation of various organic pollutants. The new capture–photodegradation–release mechanism for improved photocatalysis properties is of importance in the rational design and synthesis of new photocatalysts.
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