TiO$_2$ being a wide band gap semiconducting material cannot use the solar insolation for photocatalysis. An interesting strategy is to dope TiO$_2$ with upconverting rare earth materials, which upon infrared (IR) or visible light irradiation can emit ultraviolet light to generate excitons in TiO$_2$ for further catalytic reactions. This manuscript reports the incorporationof Er$_2$O$_3$/Yb$_2$O$_3$ into TiO$_2$ via two synthetic methodologies. One of which yields the co-presence of rare earth oxides and TiO$_2$ on the surface, while the other synthetic route yields the rare earth oxides in the core of the TiO$_2$ shell. The detailed structural, morphological and optical properties of the laboratory synthesized materials were studied by powder XRD, FESEM,STEM, HR-TEM, BET, UV-DRS and PL. The surfaces of the materials did show some difference in their properties depending on their synthesis route, however, the two photon excitation was similar to both the set of materials.The synthesizedmaterials were studied for degradation of rhodamine B dye, and the results suggested that the presence of Er$_2$O$_3$/Yb$_2$O$_3$ on the TiO$_2$ surface was detrimental for catalytic application, while TiO$_2$ exposed on the surface with Er$_2$O$_3$/Yb$_2$O$_3$ in the core can be a choice of materials for photocatalytic application.
Volume 43, 2020
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