Study on the photocatalytic mechanism and detoxicity of gemfibrozil by a sunlight-driven TiO2/carbon dots photocatalyst: The significant roles of reactive oxygen species

Ping Chen, Fengliang Wang, Zhi Feng Chen, Qianxin Zhang, Yuehan Su, Lingzhi Shen, Kun Yao, Yang Liu, Zongwei CAI, Wenying Lv, Guoguang Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


An environmentally friendly and sunlight-driven photocatalyst is thought to be a promising alternative to conventional water treatment technology. In this study, carbon dots (C-Dots), a newly discovered material with the ability to upconvert light, were decorated to TiO2 via a facile hydrothermal-calcination synthesis approach. Under simulated sunlight irradiation, a very low C-Dots content of 5.0 wt% resulted in a 2.3 times faster reaction rate for gemfibrozil (GEM) photodegradation than pristine TiO2. Oxidative species, particularly [rad]OH, were the most important reactive species mediating the photocatalytic degradation of GEM. A notable observation was the higher formation rates of [rad]OH in the TiO2/C-Dots system than in pristine TiO2, which was determined via electron spin resonance spectroscopy. Frontier electron density calculations and mass spectrometry were used to verify that the major degradation pathways of GEM contained [rad]OH addition, H abstraction and O2[rad] attack. The acute toxicity of the treated solution at two trophic levels first increased slowly and then decreased rapidly as the total organic carbon decreased during photocatalytic degradation. Compared to traditional advanced oxidation processes, TiO2/C-Dots photocatalytic technology could reduce the generation of toxic by-products. These results highlight the potential application of sustainable sunlight-driven photocatalyst in water purification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-259
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Catalysis B: Environmental
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Catalysis
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Carbon dots
  • Detoxicity
  • Gemfibrozil
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • TiO


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