Nanoparticle metal oxide photocatalysts are attractive due to their increased reactivity and ease of processing into versatile electrode formats; however, their preparation is cumbersome. We report on the rapid bulk synthesis of photocatalytic nanoparticles with homogeneous shape and size via the cathodic corrosion method, a simple electrochemical approach applied for the first time to the versatile preparation of complex metal oxides. Nanoparticles consisting of tungsten oxide (H2WO4) nanoplates, titanium oxide (TiO2) nanowires, and symmetric star-shaped bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) were prepared conveniently using tungsten, titanium, and vanadium wires as a starting material. Each of the particles were extremely rapid to produce, taking only 2-3 minutes to etch 2.5 mm of metal wire into a colloidal dispersion of photoactive materials. All crystalline H2WO4 and BiVO4 particles and amorphous TiO2 were photoelectrochemically active towards the water oxidation reaction. Additionally, the BiVO4 particles showed enhanced photocurrent in the visible region towards the oxidation of a sacrificial sulfite reagent. This synthetic method provides an inexpensive alternative to conventional fabrication techniques and is potentially applicable to a wide variety of metal oxides, making the rapid fabrication of active photocatalysts with controlled crystallinity more efficient.
- metal oxides