Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2016, vol 469pp. 242-256
A new strategy to synthesize hierarchical, porous titania/carbon (TiO2/C) hybrid microspheres via solvothermal reaction in N,N′-dimethyl formamide (DMF) has been developed. In situ formed polystyrene (PS) colloids have been used as templating agent and carbon source, through which TiO2/PS microspheres with a diameter of ca. 1 μm are built by packed TiO2 nanoparticles of tens of nanometers. The TiO2/PS microspheres are converted to TiO2/C microspheres with different amounts of carbon under controlled calcination condition. The mechanism investigation unveils that the introduction of concentrated HCl creates surface tension between PS and DMF, leading to the formation of PS colloids in solution. The solvothermal treatment further promotes the formation of PS colloids and integration of the titania nanoparticles within the PS colloids. The morphology, crystallinity, nature and content of carbon, UV–Vis absorption, carbon doping, pore size distribution, pore volume, and BET surface area of the TiO2 microspheres with different amounts of carbon have been measured. The applications of the TiO2/C hybrid microspheres as photo catalyst for water splitting and lithium-ion battery anode have been demonstrated. Superior photo catalytic activity for hydrogen conversion under both full spectrum and visible light illumination compared to commercial P25 has been observed for the TiO2/C microspheres with 2 wt% of carbon. Besides, the TiO2/C microspheres with 8 wt% of carbon as lithium-ion battery anode showed a much higher capacity than the bare TiO2 microsphere anode. The origin for the enhanced performance as photo catalyst and lithium-ion battery anode is discussed.