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1.  Modulation of defect-mediated energy transfer from ZnO nanoparticles for the photocatalytic degradation of bilirubin 
In recent years, nanotechnology has gained significant interest for applications in the medical field. In this regard, a utilization of the ZnO nanoparticles for the efficient degradation of bilirubin (BR) through photocatalysis was explored. BR is a water insoluble byproduct of the heme catabolism that can cause jaundice when its excretion is impaired. The photocatalytic degradation of BR activated by ZnO nanoparticles through a non-radiative energy transfer pathway can be influenced by the surface defect-states (mainly the oxygen vacancies) of the catalyst nanoparticles. These were modulated by applying a simple annealing in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The mechanism of the energy transfer process between the ZnO nanoparticles and the BR molecules adsorbed at the surface was studied by using steady-state and picosecond-resolved fluorescence spectroscopy. A correlation of photocatalytic degradation and time-correlated single photon counting studies revealed that the defect-engineered ZnO nanoparticles that were obtained through post-annealing treatments led to an efficient decomposition of BR molecules that was enabled by Förster resonance energy transfer.
PMCID: PMC3869374  PMID: 24367739
bilirubin; Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET); neonatal jaundice; oxygen vacancy; photocatalysis; phototherapy; zinc oxide nanoparticles
2.  Highly efficient ZnO/Au Schottky barrier dye-sensitized solar cells: Role of gold nanoparticles on the charge-transfer process 
Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods decorated with gold (Au) nanoparticles have been synthesized and used to fabricate dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC). The picosecond-resolved, time-correlated single-photon-count (TCSPC) spectroscopy technique was used to explore the charge-transfer mechanism in the ZnO/Au-nanocomposite DSSC. Due to the formation of the Schottky barrier at the ZnO/Au interface and the higher optical absorptions of the ZnO/Au photoelectrodes arising from the surface plasmon absorption of the Au nanoparticles, enhanced power-conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.49% for small-area (0.1 cm2) ZnO/Au-nanocomposite DSSC was achieved compared to the 5.34% efficiency of the bare ZnO nanorod DSSC. The TCSPC studies revealed similar dynamics for the charge transfer from dye molecules to ZnO both in the presence and absence of Au nanoparticles. A slower fluorescence decay associated with the electron recombination process, observed in the presence of Au nanoparticles, confirmed the blocking of the electron transfer from ZnO back to the dye or electrolyte by the Schottky barrier formed at the ZnO/Au interface. For large area DSSC (1 cm2), ~130% enhancement in PCE (from 0.50% to 1.16%) was achieved after incorporation of the Au nanoparticles into the ZnO nanorods.
PMCID: PMC3201621  PMID: 22043457
dye-sensitized solar cell; gold nanoparticle; picosecond spectroscopy; Schottky barrier; zinc oxide nanorod
3.  Enhanced visible light photocatalysis through fast crystallization of zinc oxide nanorods 
Hydrothermally grown ZnO nanorods have inherent crystalline defects primarily due to oxygen vacancies that enhance optical absorption in the visible spectrum, opening up possibilities for visible light photocatalysis. Comparison of photocatalytic activity of ZnO nanorods and nanoparticle films on a test contaminant methylene blue with visible light irradiation at 72 kilolux (klx) showed that ZnO nanorods are 12–24% more active than ZnO nanoparticulate films. This can be directly attributed to the increased effective surface area for adsorption of target contaminant molecules. Defects, in the form of interstitials and vacancies, were intentionally created by faster growth of the nanorods by microwave activation. Visible light photocatalytic activity was observed to improve by ≈8% attributed to the availability of more electron deficient sites on the nanorod surfaces. Engineered defect creation in nanostructured photocatalysts could be an attractive solution for visible light photocatalysis.
PMCID: PMC3045919  PMID: 21977391
defects; nanoparticle; nanorod; photocatalysis; pollutant; ZnO

Results 1-3 (3)