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Final Report Summary - GRAPES (GRaphene Enhancement of the Photocatalytic Activity of Semiconductors)

“GREPAS” Graphene Enhancement of the Photocatalytic Activity of Semiconductors

Plants and other organisms are able to convert light energy, normally from the Sun, into chemical energy via photosynthesis. This energy can be later released to fuel the organisms' activities. Certain inorganic materials such as titanium dioxide can also carry out a similar process. However, this kind of inorganic materials called photocatalyst are not as smart as live organisms and they need the help of other materials to improve the efficiency of this process. In this sense, graphene the thinnest material ever consisting in a single atom layer of graphite can play a key role. Geim and Novoselov were awarded only five years ago with the Nobel Prize for “ground-breaking experiments” on graphene. They simply stuck a piece of scotch tape on a chunk of graphite and pulled off this outstanding thin layer. The unique intrinsic properties of graphene open new opportunities to revolutionize a wide range of technologies including membranes, supercapacitors, membranes and multifunctional polymer and ceramic composites. However, practical advances will depend on our ability to build complex three dimensional structures in practical dimensions using a two dimensional building block. In this respect the use of solution process Chemically Modified Graphene (namely graphene oxide, GO, and its reduced form rGO) opens new opportunities. Thus, the ultimate goal in this project was the development and manufacture of a new family of supported photocatalyst materials, based on graphene, which are active under a broad range of the solar radiance due to their added effectiveness under visible light.
Our ability on anchoring TiO2 semiconductor nanoparticles to Chemically Modified Graphene and its formulation as suspensions and inks tailored for a wide range of processing technologies from freeze casting to three dimensional printing has enabled the design and fabrication of self-supported hybrid photocatalyts. This new self-supported 3D printed structures will have enormous potential as air cleaning filters.
Additive manufacturing and wet chemistry and processing of Chemically Modified Graphene have allowed the fabrication of hybrid materials with practical dimensions. This is such a big step forward on the direct implementation of these new self-supported materials on real applications as air/water purification, self-cleaning surfaces or water splitting into hydrogen as clean energy vector.

Contact details:
Professor Eduardo Saiz Gutierrez Dr. Victoria Garcia Rocha
Centre of Advanced Structural Ceramics Centre of Advanced Structural Ceramics
Department of Materials Department of Materials
Imperial College London Imperial College London
SW7 2BP London, UK SW7 2BP London, UK

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