Electrospun zinc oxide (ZnO) nanofibers have been significantly improved via a simple heat treatment modification. The present work reports an intriguing cost-effective microstructure tuning, by drastically dropping the temperature of the calcined sample during the cooling period, to get highly photocatalytically active ZnO nanofibers. The calcination temperatures are deducted from thermogravimetric analysis, the phase and purity are confirmed by X-ray diffraction, while the morphology and texture have been revealed by field emission scanning electron microscopy and high-resolution transmission electron spectroscopy. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy was conducted to get further insight on the surface composition and oxidation states, while N2-adsorption isotherms were analyzed using the Brunauer-Emmet-Teller methodology. The crystallinity, surface area, and porosity of the ZnO nanofibers, as well as the exposure of active sites, have been enhanced by the rapid cooling method. Photodegradation activity toward methylene blue was improved from 88% to 94%, and 85% to 97%, for free cooled and rapid cooled samples calcined at 300 °C and 500 °C respectively. The adsorption of chromium (VI) was also tested and reached around 85 mg/g at 100 ppm without being saturated, thereby highlighting one of the most cost-effective performance-enhancing modifications so far that could be extended on different metal oxide nanomaterials.
- Cooling method
- Zinc oxide