Metal exchange of ZIF-8 and ZIF-67 nanoparticles with Fe(II) for enhanced photocatalytic performance
Mphuthi, Lehlonoholo E.
Langner, Ernst H. G.
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Zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), such as ZIF-8 and ZIF-67, were found to be efficient catalysts. However, ZIFs are not used much in photocatalysis due to their low photocatalytic activity for most reactions. The photocatalytic activity can be improved by modifying the framework by exchanging the Zn(II) ions (ZIF-8) and Co(II) ions (ZIF-67) with a more photocatalytically active metal(II) ion to form an efficient bimetallic ZIF photocatalyst. Redox-active iron (Fe)-based materials are known to be highly potent photocatalysts. Thus, incorporating iron into ZIFs could significantly enhance their photocatalytic performance. In this study, we modified nanosized ZIF-8(Zn) and ZIF-67(Co) via metal (Fe2+) exchange to produce bimetallic frameworks that are photocatalytically more active than their parent ZIFs. Nanosized ZIF-8 and ZIF-67 were synthesized isothermally in either water or methanol under ambient conditions. From these, Fe-containing bimetallic ZIF-8 and ZIF-67 nanoparticles were synthesized via the metal exchange, and their performance on the photocatalytic degradation of dye was evaluated. The morphology and crystal structures of the pristine ZIF-8 and ZIF-67 nanoparticles were retained to a large extent during the iron exchange. Their Brunauer−Emmett−Teller (BET) surface areas decreased by less than 15% for nZIF-8 and less than 12% for nZIF-67. The binding energy values on X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) confirmed the preservation of the oxidation state of Fe(II) during the exchange process. A remarkably higher catalytic activity was observed for the photocatalytic degradation of dye by the Fe-exchanged nZIF-8 and nZIF-67 compared to their parent ZIFs. This proved that the incorporation of Fe(II) centers into the ZIF framework enhanced the photocatalytic activity of the framework dramatically. In addition, these catalysts can be regenerated and reused without an appreciable loss in activity.