Multidisciplinary Platform of Advanced Engineering, Chemical Engineering Discipline, School of Engineering, Monash University, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, 47500, Bandar Sunway, Selangor, Malaysia. Electronic address: [Email]
Growing concerns of water pollution by dye pollutants from the textile industry has led to vast research interest to find green solutions to address this issue. In recent years, heterogeneous photocatalysis has harvested tremendous attention from researchers due to its powerful potential applications in tackling many important energy and environmental challenges at a global level. To fully utilise the broad spectrum of solar energy has been a common aim in the photocatalyst industry. This study focuses on the development of an efficient, highly thermal and chemical stable, environmentally friendly and metal-free graphitic carbon nitride (g-C3N4) to overcome the problem of fast charge recombination which hinders photocatalytic performances. Nitrogen-doped carbon quantum dots (NCQDs) known for its high electronic and optical functionality properties is believed to achieve photocatalytic enhancement by efficient charge separation through forming heterogeneous interfaces. Hence, the current work focuses on the hybridisation of NCQDs and g-C3N4 to produce a composite photocatalyst for methylene blue (MB) degradation under LED light irradiation. The optimal hybridisation method and the mass loading required for maximum attainable MB degradation were systematically investigated. The optimum photocatalyst, 1 wt% NCQD/g-C3N4 composite was shown to exhibit a 2.6-fold increase in photocatalytic activity over bare g-C3N4. Moreover, the optimum sample displayed excellent stability and durability after three consecutive degradation cycles, retaining 91.2% of its original efficiency. Scavenging tests were also performed where reactive species, photon-hole (h+) was identified as the primary active species initiating the pollutant degradation mechanism. The findings of this study successfully shed light on the hybridisation methods of NCQDs which improve existing g-C3N4 photocatalyst systems for environmental remediation by utilising solar energy.