Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

E.K. Stefanakos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nikolai Kislov, Ph.D.


photocatalysis, methyl orange, surface, band gap, sol-gel process


TiO2 photocatalysis is been widely studied for air and water purification applications; titanium dioxide is the most used semiconductor principally because its low cost, stability and chemical properties. However it only utilizes the UV portion of the solar spectrum as an energy source (less than 4% of the total sunlight energy). This behavior is due to its high band gap value of 3.2 eV. The modification of light harvesting properties of TiO2 by doping has become an important research topic to achieve an efficient operating range under UV and visible light. In addition, the structure and surface properties of photocatalysts play an important role.

This thesis explores the effects of Zn doped TiO2, prepared by the sol-gel method, on its photocatalytic activity to decompose organics and the characterization of the doped samples. Since this study is part of a collaborative initiative, the samples were synthesized and provided by Dr. A. R. Phani from the Department of Physics, University of L'Aquila. Preliminary examination revealed a relatively low photocatalytic efficiency of the samples. The objective is to modify/improve its properties by high energy ball milling which is expected to generate accumulations of defects, particle size reduction and an increase in the active surface area.

The characterization of doped and mechanochemically treated materials will be analyzed by optical diffuse reflectance measurements and optical absorption calculations using the Kubelka-Munk approach. The phase structure and particle size of the materials will be determined using X-ray diffraction (XRD). The BET surface area of the samples will be obtained using an Autosorb instrument. The photocatalytic properties will be studied by the analysis of decomposition of Methyl Orange in an aqueous solution. An aqueous photocatalytic tubular reactor with capability of operation using UV and/or fluorescent light will be designed and built.