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Size and doping effect on the structure, transitions and optical properties of multiferroic BiFeO₃ particles for photocatalytic applications

Abstract : This experimental PhD work has been dedicated to the synthesis, by wet chemistry methods, and characterization of nanoparticles based on multiferroic BiFeO3, with the aim of using them for photocatalytic applications. This material presents a bandgap of 2.6eV, which allows the charge carrier photoexcitation in the visible range, making BiFeO3 a very interesting system for photoinduced processes. This thesis has been particularly focused on characterizing the properties of BiFeO3 nanoparticles in view of understanding the relationship of their properties on their potential use for photocatalytic applications. First of all, the topic of the size effect on the structural properties, phase transitions, and physics and chemistry of the particles has been developed, keeping as first aim to separate the properties related to the surface from those arising from the bulk/core of the particle. To do so, the mastering and optimization of the synthesis processes of BiFeO3 particles at the nano and microscale were needed, to finally obtain different size compounds with high crystalline quality. Despite the size reduction of the particles, we notice that, thanks to the control of the synthesis process, our BiFeO3 nanoparticles present properties very close to those of the bulk BiFeO3 material, keeping the rhombohedral structure R3c with weak strain effects. In order to indirectly tune the optical properties exploiting the doping, we have succeeded in realizing a homogenous La3+ doping, and a partial Ca2+ doping, on the Bi3+ site. The optical properties of the nanoparticles and their use on the first photocatalytic experiments for degrading rhodamine B dye have shown the complexity of the physics and chemistry phenomena at their surface and of the light-particle processes. After analyzing optical absorbance data as a function of the particle size, we observe that the deduced bandgap for different particles is not the main parameter directing the photocatalytic performances. Other factors have been identified to be at the origin of the localization of the photoexcited charges, as the surface states linked to the skin layer of the nanoparticles, depicting structural defects, a reduction of the oxidation state of Fe3+ towards Fe2+ and the stabilization of other adsorbates, such as FeOOH; all these parameters may contribute to the change on the photocatalytic performances. The photocatalytic results are very encouraging, motivating to continue the study of BiFeO3 based nanoparticles, though depicting a 50% rhodamine B degradation after 4h of photocatalytic reaction using some of the present nanoparticles.
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Xiaofei Bai. Size and doping effect on the structure, transitions and optical properties of multiferroic BiFeO₃ particles for photocatalytic applications. Other. Université Paris Saclay (COmUE), 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016SACLC013⟩. ⟨tel-01315558⟩

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