In this paper, Bi2O3 and rare earth (La, Ce)-doped Bi2O3 visible-light-driven photocatalysts were prepared in a Triton X-100/n-hexanol/cyclohexane/water reverse microemulsion. The resulting materials were characterized by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) surface area, photoluminescence spectra (PLS) and UV–Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy. The XRD patterns of the as-prepared catalysts calcined at 500°C exhibited only the characteristic peaks of monoclinic α-Bi2O3. PLS analysis implied that the separation efficiency for electron-hole has been enhanced when Bi2O3 was doped with rare earth. UV–Vis diffuse reflectance spectroscopy measurements presented an extension of light absorption into the visible region. The photocatalytic activity of the samples was evaluated by degradation of methyl orange (MO) and 2,4-dichlorophenol (2,4-DCP). The results displayed that the photocatalytic activity of rare earth-doped Bi2O3 was higher than that of dopant-free Bi2O3. The optimal dopant amount of La or Ce was 1.0 mol%. And the mechanisms of influence on the photocatalytic activity of the catalysts were discussed.
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