Key Laboratory of Building Safety and Energy Efficiency, Ministry of Education, Department of Water Engineering and Science, College of Civil Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha, Hunan 410082, PR China; Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 828 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30332, United States. Electronic address: [Email]
The occurrence of carbamazepine (CBZ) in environments poses a potential risk to aquatic life and exhibits growth inhibition of human embryonic cells. In this work, for the first time a series of Ag-SnO2 quantum dots (QDs)/silver phosphate (AgSn/AgP) composites were synthesized and used as photocatalysts for CBZ degradation. The obtained AgSn/AgP composites showed superior photodegradation efficiency for CBZ removal. The degradation rate constant of 10AgSn/AgP (with 10 wt% of Ag-SnO2 QDs) was almost 8.5, 5.7, 5.7, and 1.9 times as that of Ag-SnO2 QDs, Ag3PO4, Ag/Ag3PO4, and SnO2 QDs/Ag3PO4, respectively. The improved photocatalytic activity could be primarily ascribed to the improved charge separation through a collaborative effect of Ag-SnO2 QDs and Ag3PO4, and in situ photoreduced metallic silver. Electron spin resonance (ESR) measurement and radical trapping experiments suggested that holes (h+), (superoxideradical) ·O2- and (hydroxylradical) ·OH corporately participated in the decomposition of CBZ. Moreover, a reasonable mechanism for photocatalytic degradation of CBZ over 10AgSn/AgP composites was tentatively proposed. Additionally, eight degradation intermediates were determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Toxicity evaluation using the Ecological Structure Activity Relationships (ECOSAR) program revealed that the toxicity of most photodegradation intermediates were much lower than that of the parent compound CBZ. This work not only provides a new technique for preparing Ag3PO4-based photocatalysts with high activity, but also demonstrates that 10AgSn/AgP could be a promising photocatalyst for treating water and wastewaters containing CBZ.