Yugang Sun of the Argonne National Laboratory's Center for Nanoscale Materials created visible-light catalysis, using silver chloride nanowires decorated with gold nanoparticles that can decompose organic molecules in polluted water.
"Silver nanowires have been extensively studied and used for a variety of applications, including transparent conductive electrodes for solar cells and optoelectronic devices," Sun said. "By chemically converting them into semiconducting silver chloride nanowires, followed by adding gold nanoparticles, we have created nanowires with a completely new set of properties …"
Scientists said traditional silver chloride photocatalytic properties are restricted to ultraviolet and blue light wavelengths, but with the addition of the gold nanoparticles, they become photocatalytic in visible light. The visible light excites the electrons in the gold nanoparticles and initiates reactions that culminate in charge separation on the silver chloride nanowires.
Argonne officials said tests have shown the gold-decorated nanowires can decompose organic molecules such as methylene blue.
"If you were to create a film of gold-decorated nanowires and allow polluted water to flow through it, the organic molecules may be destroyed with visible irradiation from conventional fluorescent light bulbs or the sun," Sun said.
The research appears in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.