• Development of a metal-free black phosphorus/graphitic carbon nitride heterostructure for visible-light-driven degradation of indomethacin.

      He, Dongyang; Jin, Dexin; Cheng, Fangyuan; Zhang, Tingting; Qu, Jiao; Zhou, Yangjian; Yuan, Xing; Zhang, Ya-Nan; Peijnenburg, Willie J G M (2021-09-07)
      The development of affordable and efficient technologies for the removal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) from water has recently been the subject of extensive attention. In this study, a black phosphorus/graphitic carbon nitride (BP-g-C3N4) heterostructure is fabricated as an extremely active metal-free photocatalyst via a newly-developed exfoliation strategy. The BP-g-C3N4 shows an 11 times better decomposition rate of a representative PPCPs-type pollutant, indomethacin (IDM), compared to the widely-used P25 TiO2 under real-sunlight illumination. Also, its visible-light activity is even better than that of the best photocatalysts previously developed, but only consumes 1/10-1/4 of the catalyst. The results show that BP performs a cocatalyst-like behavior to catalyze the generation of reactive oxygen species, thus speeding up the decomposition of IDM. In addition, the BP-g-C3N4 photocatalyst also exhibits excellent IDM removal efficiency in authentic water matrices (tap water, surface water, and secondarily treated sewage effluent). Large-scale application demonstration under natural sunlight further reveals the practicality of BP-g-C3N4 for real-world water treatment operations. Our work will open up new possibilities in the development of purely metal-free photocatalysts for "green" environmental remediation applications.