Films of Ag, Pt and Au nanoparticles are photodeposited onto a range of commercial TiO2 based photocatalytic materials, such as paint, tile, awning fabric and glass, as well as a TiO2 sol-gel film, using an aqueous ink containing a sacrificial electron donor, glycerol, and the appropriate metal salt. The photodeposited metal films appear to be comprised of a fine covering of nanoparticular metal islands distributed evenly across the surface of the TiO2 sol-gel film, with some large aggregated particles for Pt (106 nm) and Au (33 nm). The rate of deposition of Ag is particularly fast, since a 10 s exposure to 2 mW cm−2 UVA light produces a very noticeable colour change, which is ca. 60 times that of the other two metal-ion containing inks. When combined with a photomask, the metal inks are used to create finely detailed metal film images on the surfaces of a wide variety of different, mainly commercial, photocatalytic materials; a fine metal mesh photomask is used to make metal micro-patterns. When used to promote the photocatalysed oxidation of organic pollutants dissolved in aqueous solution, such as 4CP and MB, the enhancement in photocatalytic activity (compared to a plain TiO2 film) exhibited by a photodeposited Pt on TiO2 film is modest (16–35%), however, the enhancement is marked (234%) for the photocatalysed oxidation of CO to CO2. In contrast, the Au and Ag films appear to depress the inherent activity of the naked TiO2. The Pt/TiO2 film also enhances significantly the photocatalysed oxidation of a film of soot (179%) but not of stearic acid (−23%); the Ag and Au films appear to impede the former reaction. The Pt/TiO2 film exhibits the most significant enhancement in rate for the photocatalysed reduction of water to H2 by ethanol, i.e. 62 times that of the Ag/TiO2 film, which exhibits only a modest activity, which in turn is better than a naked TiO2 film which shows no activity. The potential of the metal (ion) inks to more easily make photodeposited metal films on semiconductor photocatalyst films is discussed briefly.
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