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Innovative Metal Oxide Nanocomposite Developed for Environmental Cleanup

New Delhi: A groundbreaking metal oxide nanocomposite has been developed to facilitate the photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants, such as dyes and pharmaceuticals, offering a sustainable technology for environmental cleanup.

Metal oxide photocatalysis presents a viable solution for removing organic contaminants from water bodies. Notable catalysts include titanium dioxide (TiO2), zinc oxide (ZnO), and tungsten trioxide (WO3) due to their high surface area and stability. When exposed to light, these catalysts generate electron-hole pairs that degrade pollutants into harmless by-products. The efficiency of this process is influenced by factors such as the choice of metal oxide, crystal structure, light parameters, pollutant concentration, pH, and catalyst loading. Optimizing these factors is essential for maximizing degradation rates.

Dr. Arundhuti Devi and her team at the Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), an autonomous institution under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), have developed an innovative metal oxide nanocomposite specifically for photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants. The new nanocomposite, Ni-doped TiO2 on Fuller’s earth (NiTF), was characterized and tested as a photocatalyst for methylene blue decolorization. Remarkably, it achieved 96.15% decolorization of the dye solution at pH 9.0 under visible light within 90 minutes. Fuller’s earth significantly improved TiO2 adsorption in the dark, suggesting that this material could serve as a cost-effective environmental photocatalyst. The findings were recently published in the journal Inorganic Chemistry Communications by Elsevier.

Dr. Devi’s team believes that the nanocomposite could have wide-ranging applications, including catalysis, energy storage, sensors, optoelectronics, biomedical fields, coatings, and renewable energy production through water splitting. The development of NiTF represents a significant advancement in the use of metal oxide photocatalysts for environmental sustainability.

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