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Hierarchical optofluidic microreactor for water purification using an array of TiO2 nanostructures

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Kim,  Hyejeong
Laboratory for Fluid Physics, Pattern Formation and Biocomplexity, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Bodenschatz,  Eberhard
Laboratory for Fluid Physics, Pattern Formation and Biocomplexity, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kim, H., Kwon, H., Song, R., Shin, S., Ham, S.-Y., Park, H.-D., et al. (2022). Hierarchical optofluidic microreactor for water purification using an array of TiO2 nanostructures. npj Clean Water, 5: 62, pp. 1-10. doi:10.1038/s41545-022-00204-y.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-9FBF-C
Abstract
Clean water for human consumption is, in many places, a scarce resource, and efficient schemes to purify water are in great demand. Here, we describe a method to dramatically increase the efficiency of a photocatalytic water purification microreactor. Our hierarchical optofluidic microreactor combines the advantages of a nanostructured photocatalyst with light harvesting by base substrates, together with a herringbone micromixer for the enhanced transport of reactants. The herringbone micromixer further improves the reaction efficiency of the nanostructured photocatalyst by generating counter-rotating vortices along the flow direction. In addition, the use of metal-based substrates underneath the nanostructured catalyst increases the purification capacity by improving the light-harvesting efficiency. The photocatalyst is grown from TiO2 as a nanohelix film, which exhibits a large surface-to-volume ratio and a reactive microstructure. We show that the hierarchical structuring with micro- to nanoscale features results in a device with markedly increased photocatalytic activity as compared with a solid unstructured catalyst surface. This is evidenced by the successful degradation of persistent aqueous contaminants, sulfamethoxazole, and polystyrene microplastics. The design can potentially be implemented with solar photocatalysts in flow-through water purification systems.