Brookite TiO2 is a promising material for active photocatalysts. However, the principal mechanism that determines the distinctive photocatalytic activity between anatase, rutile, and brookite TiO2 has not yet been fully elucidated. Therefore, in this work, we studied the behavior of photogenerated electrons and holes in these TiO2 powders by using femtosecond to millisecond time-resolved visible to mid-IR absorption spectroscopy. We found that most of the photogenerated electrons in brookite TiO2 are trapped at powder defects within a few ps. This electron trapping decreases the number of surviving free electrons, but it extends the lifetime of holes as well as the trapped electrons because the probability of electrons to encounter holes is decreased by this electron-trapping. As a result, the number of surviving holes increases, which is beneficial for photocatalytic oxidation. In contrast, the reactivity of electrons is decreased to some extent by trapping, but they still remain active for photocatalytic reductions. Electron trapping also takes place on anatase and rutile TiO2 powders, but the trap-depth in anatase is too shallow to extend the lifetime of holes and that of rutile is too deep than the thermal energy (kT) at room temperature for the electron-consuming reactions. As a result of the moderate depth of the electron trap in brookite, both electrons and holes are reactive for photocatalytic reductions and oxidations. These results have clearly demonstrated that the presence of an appropriate depth of the electron trap can effectively contribute to enhance the overall photocatalytic activity.
- charge trapping
- photogenerated charge carriers
- time-resolved absorption spectroscopy
- TiO photocatalysts
ASJC Scopus subject areas