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Conducting polymer nanostructures for photocatalysis under visible light

Abstract

Visible-light-responsive photocatalysts can directly harvest energy from solar light, offering a desirable way to solve energy and environment issues1. Here, we show that one-dimensional poly(diphenylbutadiyne) nanostructures synthesized by photopolymerization using a soft templating approach have high photocatalytic activity under visible light without the assistance of sacrificial reagents or precious metal co-catalysts. These polymer nanostructures are very stable even after repeated cycling. Transmission electron microscopy and nanoscale infrared characterizations reveal that the morphology and structure of the polymer nanostructures remain unchanged after many photocatalytic cycles. These stable and cheap polymer nanofibres are easy to process and can be reused without appreciable loss of activity. Our findings may help the development of semiconducting-based polymers for applications in self-cleaning surfaces, hydrogen generation and photovoltaics.

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Figure 1: Synthesis and characterization of PDPB nanofibres.
Figure 2: Comparative photocatalytic activity of PDPB nanofibres, TiO2 and Ag–TiO2.
Figure 3: Schematic representation of the photocatalytic mechanism and energy level calculation of polymer structures by density functional theory.
Figure 4: Recycling and stability of the PDPB nanofibres.

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Acknowledgements

S.G. acknowledges Marie Curie COFUND, RBUCE-UP (Research Based University Chairs of Excellence of Paris) and PRES UniverSud Paris for a postdoctoral fellowship. The authors gratefully acknowledge C’Nano Ile de France and Université Paris-Sud (ERM project) for financial support for the Cobalt-60 panoramic gamma source.

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Contributions

S.G. carried out fabrication of the polymer nanostructure, performed the experiment on photocatalytic activity and also contributed to writing of the manuscript. N.A.K. conducted the photocatalysis experiments. L.R. characterized the doped mesophases by SAXS and the polymer by XRD. S.R. provided information about conducting polymers. A.D. and A.D-B. ran the nanoIR system for characterization and stability of the polymer nanostructures with cycling. P.B. characterized the polymer nanostructures by TEM. F.G. and P-H.A. provided NMR characterizations, theoretical calculations, bandgap measurements and electrochemical investigations. H.R. supervised the entire project and also wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Hynd Remita.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Ghosh, S., Kouamé, N., Ramos, L. et al. Conducting polymer nanostructures for photocatalysis under visible light. Nature Mater 14, 505–511 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat4220

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