Heterogeneous photocatalysis is a promising advanced oxidation process for water purification, given its potential to fully oxidize organic pollutants and to inactivate microorganisms. Due to its versatility and high performance in a broad range of conditions, titanium dioxide (TiO2)-based photocatalysis has been systematically used at laboratory scale to treat water of different quality. Even though TiO2 is an exceptional photocatalyst, its broad band gap value (3.2 eV) makes necessary the use of UV light to achieve the photoactivation. This results in the underutilization of the material in sunlight-driven photocatalysis schemes. In order to overcome this handicap, the synthesis of heterostructures using low band gap semiconductors coupled with TiO2 has brought exceptional materials for visible light-driven photocatalysis. In this chapter, the fundamentals of the synthesis and photoactivation of TiO2-low band gap semiconductor heterostructures are explored. The mechanisms leading to the increase of the photocatalytic activity of such heterostructures are described. A summary of the available data on the photocatalytic performance of TiO2-based heterostructures is presented, in terms of degradation of organic pollutants in water using visible light and sunlight. A comparison of the depuration performance of powdered and thin film heterostructures is given at the end of the chapter.
Part of the book: Titanium Dioxide