A rice-shaped TiO2-ZnO composite was prepared by electrospinning a mixture comprising the precursors of TiO2 and ZnO in polyvinyl acetate polymer dissolved in N,N-dimethyl acetamide. The electrospun nanofibers upon heat treatment in air resulted in collapse of the continuous fiber morphology and the formation of the rice-shaped TiO2-ZnO composite. The TiO2-ZnO composite was then treated with dilute acetic acid under hydrothermal conditions to etch ZnO from the TiO2-ZnO composite to get coral-shaped anisotropic TiO2. The structural anisotropy of TiO2 produced by the selective etching of ZnO resulted in a high surface area of 148 m2 g-1 for the TiO2. The initial and final materials were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, Raman and XPS spectroscopies, powder X-ray diffraction and BET surface area measurements. The utility of the anisotropic TiO2 in photovoltaics and photocatalysis was explored. Dye-sensitized solar cells fabricated using the TiO2 showed a conversion efficiency of 6.54% as against 4.8% for a control experiment with the rice-shaped TiO 2. The anisotropic TiO2 also showed good photocatalysis in the degradation of methyl orange dye and phenol.
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T. A. Arun, Madhavan, A. A., Chacko, D. K., Anjusree, G. S., Deepak, T. G., Thomas, S., Nair, S. V., and Nair, A. S., “A facile approach for high surface area electrospun TiO2 nanostructures for photovoltaic and photocatalytic applications”, Dalton Transactions, vol. 43, pp. 4830-4837, 2014.