Sol gel graphene/TiO2 nanoparticles for the photocatalytic-assisted sensing and abatement of NO2

Andrea Giampiccolo, D.M. Tobaldi, Salvatore Leonardi, Billy Murdoch, Paula Seabra, Martin Ansell, Giovanni Neri, Richard Ball

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Human exposure to volatile organic compounds and NO2 can lead to health problems, therefore strategies to mitigate against the risks are required. Abatement and sensing are approaches which could both neutralise and
monitor these species thus providing a safer environment and warning occupants of harmful levels. This paper presents pure TiO2 and TiO2/graphene hybrids synthesized through a sol-gel route. Electron optical, helium ion
microscopy, X-ray diffraction and spectroscopic methods have been applied to elucidate the physical and chemical behaviour. NO2 sensing properties of TiO2/graphene hybrids formed by the addition of graphene to the reaction vessel prior to initiating the sol gel reaction followed by annealing (GTiO2S), and an alternative manufacturing method involving the addition of graphene to TiO2 nanoparticles which had already been annealed (GTiO2M) were compared and evaluated. A conductometric sensor based on TiO2/graphene prepared using material GTiO2S showed a higher response to NO2 compared to sensors based on pure TiO2 and TiO2/graphene prepared with material GTiO2M. Under UV irradiation generated by a low power LED, the sensor showed a remarkably enhanced response to 1750 ppb NO2, about double the response in the dark, and a limit of detection of about 50 ppb of NO2 (Signal/Noise = 3). Photocatalytic tests to assess the degradation of NOx showed that TiO2/graphene hybrids using material GTiO2S were the most active amongst the whole series of TiO2-based materials. Our data highlights the unique characteristics of material GTiO2S TiO2/graphene and the suitability for multi-purpose applications in the field of environmental monitoring and remediation. The capability of the material for both sensing and abatement of NOx could be exploited to offer a safer environment through providing a warning of the presence of NOx whilst also reducing levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-194
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Early online date15 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • photocatalysis
  • TiO2
  • nanoparticles
  • Graphene
  • Sensor


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