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Heterogeneous photo-catalysis is an advanced oxidation process (PAO), which has been the subject of numerous studies and applications, particularly using the commercial oxide of TiO2 (P25, Evonik). Zinc oxide (ZnO) has often been considered a valid alternative to TiO2 due to its good opto-electronic, catalytic and photochemical characteristics along with its low cost. In order to improve the photocatalytic performance of ZnO for practical applications, various types of synthetic approaches have been developed, including, among others, the hydrothermal / solvothermal growth method, sol-gel method, ultrasonic assisted method, deposition chemistry in vapor phase, etc. with the aim of preparing ZnO particles with different sizes and morphologies. However, all of these methods require relatively severe reaction conditions such as high temperature, sophisticated techniques, high purity of gases, adjustable gas flow, expensive raw materials, etc. Therefore, it is important to find a simple and cost-effective method for the synthesis of crystalline nano-particles of ZnO. For this reason, in the present work, the ZnO has been synthesized by three different procedures: conventional aqueous precipitation method, hydrothermal method (H) and microwave assisted method (MW). In all three processes, the same material is obtained, hydrocincite [Zn5(CO3) 2(OH)6], which evolves to crystalline ZnO after calcination thermal treatments. We investigated the effect of the calcination temperature, at the same time (2 h), on the optical, textural and structural properties. Photo-catalytic studies were performed using two selected substrates, Methyl Orange and Phenol, as toxic model substrates (one colorant and the other transparent). The catalysts prepared were characterized by several techniques: DRX, SBET, FE-SEM, TEM and UV-Vis (in diffuse reflectance mode).From the results of XRD, it has been possible to establish that a minimum difference between the relative intensities of exposed faces (I100 and I002) is a crucial factor to obtain good photocatalytic properties. This minimum difference is achieved, in our cases by thermal treatments of calcination at 400ºC, 2 h. When this temperature is chosen, there is no appreciable variation between the photocatalytic activities of the oxides of zinc obtained by the three processes, and there are small differences depending on the nature of the substrate chosen, which can be attributed to the textural differences between the oxides. In any case, the obtained zinc oxides show, for each substrate, photo-catalytic activities in the UV that are superior to those presented by the widely used commercial oxide TiO2 (P25) used as reference.

Naoto Yamamoto (B4) won the best prize at the 30th Doko Speech Contest.

Dr. Bhavani Puttaswamygowda is working as Assistant Professor of Biotechnology at College of Agriculture, V.C. Farm, Mandya, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. She is working on synthesis of slow release nanofertilizers to enhance nitrogen use efficiency. She is also exploring different dimensions of exploiting nanotechnolgy to develop alternative effective strategies in various fields of agriculture.

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Nanotechnology PhD Degree Programs; overview page 1 - Nanowerk

Roberto Grau completed his PhD from Rosario National University in Argentina and obtained his postdoctoral studies from The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), Department of Experimental Medicine at San Diego, California, USA. He is a Pew Latin American Fellow (San Francisco, USA), a Fulbright International Scholar (WashigntonDC, USA) and the director of the Molecular Microbiology and Environmental Science Laboratory of the National Council of Scientific Research of Argentina (CONICET). Roberto obtained many national and international awards, published more than 30 papers in reputed journals, formed more than seventy profesionals in science and founded and/or catalyzed the creation of half-dozen biotechnological companies.