Graphene enhances the photocatalytic activity of zeolites

Scientists from the UK, India and Germany have incorporated graphene into zeolites to increase their photocatalytic activity for applications such as water and air purification; dye degradation; and self-cleaning and anti-bacterial surfaces, for example.

Dominik Eder at the University of Cambridge and colleagues incorporated graphene inside titanosilicate zeolite (TS-1) pores. Zeolites are porous compounds with high surface areas and high adsorbance capacities. These properties make them excellent candidates as catalyst supports. By incorporating titanium into the zeolite framework, photocatalytic activity becomes a new functionality. 

Graphene, currently one of the most studied materials, has exceptional physical properties and it accepts electrons via photoexcitation. Nanocarbon-inorganic hybrids have shown potential as photocatalysts, but there are few reports of graphene-inorganic hybrids with photocatalytic activity. 


Graphene hybridised with zeolite increases the zeolite’s photocatalytic activity

’In our work, graphene has been hybridised with a zeolite for the first time and the resulting hybrids show an unprecedented increase in their photocatalytic activity,’ explains Eder. In fact, the team found that the photocatalytic activity was greater than that of current TS-1-carbon nanotube hybrid photocatalysts. ’We also identified an intriguing effect, in which graphene affects the zeolite particles’ morphology, shape and pore architecture,’ says Eder. 

’The most significant new finding here is the dramatic effect that incorporated graphene has on the crystal size and morphology of the TS-1 zeolite,’ comments Russell Howe, an expert in photocatalytic titanosilicates at the University of Aberdeen, UK.  ’As a photocatalyst, this composite system appears to be more active than the photocatalytic benchmark of titania P25 and there are very few new photocatalysts that can make that claim.’

Carl Saxton 

Link to journal article

Hybridizing photoactive zeolites with graphene: a powerful strategy towards superior photocatalytic propertiesZ. Ren, E. Kim, S. W. Pattinson, K. S. Subrahmanyam, C. N. R. Rao, A. K. Cheetham and D. Eder,?Chem. Sci., 2012, 3, 209DOI:10.1039/c1sc00511a