Manipulating multi-spectral slow photons in bilayer inverse opal TiO2@BiVO4 composites for highly enhanced visible light photocatalysis

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Manipulation of light has been proved to be a promising strategy to increase light harvesting in solar-to-chemical energy conversion, especially in photocatalysis. Inverse opal (IO) photonic structures are highly promising for light manipulation as their periodic dielectric structures enable them to slow down light and localize it within the structure, thereby improving light harvesting and photocatalytic efficiency. However, slow photons are confined to narrow wavelength ranges and hence limit the amount of energy that can be captured through light manipulation. To address this challenge, we synthesized bilayer IO TiO 2@BiVO 4 structures that manifested two distinct stop band gap (SBG) peaks, arising from different pore sizes in each layer, with slow photons available at either edge of each SBG. In addition, we achieved precise control over the frequencies of these multi-spectral slow photons through pore size and incidence angle variations, that enabled us to tune their wavelengths to the electronic absorption of the photocatalyst for optimal light utilization in aqueous phase visible light photocatalysis. This first proof of concept involving multi-spectral slow photon utilization enabled us to achieve up to 8.5 times and 2.2 times higher photocatalytic efficiencies than the corresponding non-structured and monolayer IO photocatalysts respectively. Through this work, we have successfully and significantly improved light harvesting efficiency in slow photon-assisted photocatalysis, the principles of which can be extended to other light harvesting applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-245
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Colloid and Interface Science
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • BiVO (bismuth vanadate)
  • Bilayer
  • Energy conversion
  • Inverse opals
  • Light harvesting
  • Photocatalysis
  • Photonic crystals
  • RhB degradation
  • Slow photons
  • TiO (titania)
  • Visible light


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