Air and water pollution is a very serious problem over the world. The application of photocatalysis for pollution treatment has attracted considerable attention in recent years. Titanium dioxide based photocatalytic coatings have immense industrial potentials because they possess many desirable properties. As shown in the scheme, when a photocatalyst (anatase TiO2) is illuminated by sunlight or near UV, it initiates a series of chemical reactions involving water vapor and oxygen in the air. This photochemical process generates a very powerful oxidizing agent, hydroxyl radicals. These radicals can oxidize common air pollutants such as volatile organic compounds, and convert them to environmentally acceptable products. This material is also anti-fogging and self-cleaning. Thousands of commercial products can be developed with this new technology.
Our research efforts in recent years have focused on the topics related to TiO2 photocatalysis. The main emphasis of our research is to prepare a series of novel TiO2 photocatalysts and discover efficient ways to make highly effective and durable thin film coatings. We have been successful in preparing new TiO2-metal oxide photocatalysts including solid solutions of Ti1-xVxO2, Ti1-xSnxO2, Ti1-xZrxO2 and rare-earth oxide mixed catalysts. Results show that these new materials exhibits much enhanced photocatalytic activity in the degradation of air pollutants.