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Mechanism of Photocatalysis

When photocatalyst titanium dioxide (TiO2) absorbs Ultraviolet (UV)* radiation from sunlight or illuminated light source (fluorescent lamps), it will produce pairs of electrons and holes. The electron of the valence band of titanium dioxide becomes excited when illuminated by light. The excess energy of this excited electron promoted the electron to the conduction band of titanium dioxide therefore creating the negative-electron (e-) and positive-hole (h+) pair. This stage is referred as the semiconductor's 'photo-excitation' state. The energy difference between the valence band and the conduction band is known as the 'Band Gap'. Wavelength of the light necessary for photo-excitation is: 1240 (Planck's constant, h) / 3.2 ev (band gap energy) = 388 nm

Fig-1 Mechanism of Photocatalysis

The positive-hole of titanium dioxide breaks apart the water molecule to form hydrogen gas and hydroxyl radical. The negative-electron reacts with oxygen molecule to form super oxide anion. This cycle continues when light is available.

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