Nanotechnology and Bioengineering (Nano-Bio) Research Group

 

The Nanotechnology and Bioengineering Division is composed of scientists and engineers in inter-disciplinary areas of biomedical, nanotechnology, bio-engineering and food technology. Current research activities include nanaotechnology, materials for sustainable development, polymers, graphene and its composites, food technology, 2 D materials, electrospinning, photocatalysis etc.

The group is currently involved in the following areas.

 

Research Area 1:

Semiconductor Materials for Photocatalysis for application in Waste Water Treatment

Advanced Oxidation technologies (AOTs) are gaining attention as an effective waste water treatment methodology capable of degrading diverse spectrum of recalcitrant organic contaminants and microbes. Undoubtedly, photocatalysis is a promising AOT to alleviate the problem of water pollution. Despite recent research into other photocatalysts (e.g. ZnO, ZnS, Semiconductor-Graphene composites, perovskites, MoS2, WO3 and Fe2O3), titanium dioxide (TiO2) remains the most popular photocatalyst due to its low cost, nontoxicity and high oxidising ability. Moreover, titania photocatalysts can easily be immobilized on various surfaces and be scaled up for large scale water treatment. The current research aims to develop photocatalytic AOTs with main emphasis on TiO2 photocatalysis.  Photocatalysis is initiated by the photocatalyst (e.g. semiconductor TiO2) being bombarded with photons from UV light (from an artificial source or solar light). These photons cause the electrons (e−) on the surface photocatalyst to become ‘excited’ in the valance band if the energy of the photons is greater than the band gap, this causes the e− to go up into the conduction band. The excited electrons that are now in the conduction band (e−CB) will react with oxygen (O2), which produces superoxide radicals (O2−), or hydroperoxide radicals (HO2). These reactive oxygen species are then used for the degradation of pollutants into water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The superoxide radicals can also be used for secondary degradation steps [33]. While this reaction is occurring, the oxidation of water takes place at the positive hole in the valance band (h+VB) [26]. This reaction generates hydroxyl radicals (OH) and hydrogen ions (H+). The OH reacts with pollutants present and forms H2O and CO2. (Byrne et al, Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 6, no. 3 (2018): 3531-3555).

 

 

 

 

Recent Publications:

  1. Ciara Byrne,, Gokulakrishnan Subramanian, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Recent advances in photocatalysis for environmental applications." Journal of Environmental Chemical Engineering, 6, no. 3 (2018): 3531-3555.

  2. Priyanka Ganguly, Ciara Byrne, Ailish Breen, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Antimicrobial activity of photocatalysts: fundamentals, mechanisms, kinetics and recent advances." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 225 (2018): 51-75.

  3. Ciara Byrne, Lorraine Moran, Daphne Hermosilla, Noemí Merayo, Ángeles Blanco, Stephen Rhatigan, Steven Hinder, Priyanka Ganguly, Michael Nolan, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Effect of Cu doping on the anatase-to-rutile phase transition in TiO2 photocatalysts: Theory and experiments." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 246 (2019): 266-276.

Research Area 2:

Designing of electro-catalysts for energy and environment applications

 

High-energy demand, depletion of fossil fuels and environmental pollution have become major global challenges in recent years. The utilization of clean and inexhaustible solar energy is essential to avoid the effects of greenhouse gases and to secure energy supply for the future. Thousands of research articles are published every year on the subject of solar energy conversion techniques such as photocatalytic degradation of emerging organic pollutants, hydrogen (H2) production via photocatalytic water splitting, photovoltaics, and dye sensitized solar cells (DSSC). The photoelectrochemical water splitting by Fujishima and Honda in 1972 is one of the most significant of these. Since then, H2 production via water splitting has become the most promising clean energy technology with minimal impact to the environment. Titanium oxide (TiO2), graphitic-carbon nitride (g-C3N4) and cadmium sulfide (CdS) are three extensively studied photocatalysts for water splitting in recent decades. Among them, TiO2 is more superior, and a benchmark photocatalyst owing to its photostability, high efficiency, appropriate band edge positions, biocompatibility and non-toxic nature of TiO2 water splitting is illustrated. Three significant steps are involved in the photocatalytic mechanism: (1) absorption of photons (λ ≥ bandgap energy) and generation of electron-hole pairs; (2) separation and migration of electron or hole from the bulk to the surface (or recombination of electron-hole pairs in the bulk material); (3) photo-reduction (H+ to H2) and photo-oxidation reactions (H2O to O2) at the surface (Kumaravel et al, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 2019 244,  Pages 1021-1064).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Publications:

  1. Vignesh Kumaravel, Snehamol Mathew, John Bartlett, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Photocatalytic hydrogen production using metal doped TiO2: A review of recent advances." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 2019 Volume 244,  Pages 1021-1064.

  2. Priyanka Ganguly, Moussab Harb, Zhen Cao, Luigi Cavallo, Ailish Breen, Saoirse Dervin, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, and Suresh C. Pillai. "2D Nanomaterials for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production." ACS Energy Letters 2019, 471687-1709

  3. Priyanka Ganguly, Snehamol Mathew, Laura Clarizia, A. Akande, Steven Hinder, Ailish Breen, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Theoretical and experimental investigation of visible light responsive AgBiS2-TiO2 heterojunctions for enhanced photocatalytic applications." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 253 (2019): 401-418.

Research Area 3:

2D nanomaterials and its composites for energy and environmental applications

The two dimensional materials illustrate unique ability of confinement of electrons in their ultrathin layer, resulting in exceptional optical and electronic properties. The strong in-plane covalent bonding offer sites for the formation of numerous heterojunctions and heterostructures. Moreover, the two dimensional architecture boast the high specific surface area which enables surface reactions such as water splitting. Graphene is the first 2D material example to exhibit the unique electronic, mechanical and optical properties.  The whole graphene revolution led to an entire new domain of research of similar structures. 74653E00 19-21 2D transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) have gained extensive attention in recent years. TMDs are made of hexagonal layers of metal atoms (M) squeezed in between two layers of chalcogen atoms (X) with stoichiometry MX2 (Ganguly et al ACS Energy Letters 2019, 471687-1709)

 

 

 

Recent Publications

  1. Priyanka Ganguly, Moussab Harb, Zhen Cao, Luigi Cavallo, Ailish Breen, Saoirse Dervin, Dionysios D. Dionysiou, and Suresh C. Pillai. "2D Nanomaterials for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production." ACS Energy Letters 2019, 471687-1709

  2. Saoirse Dervin, Yvonne Lang, Tatiana Perova, Steven H. Hinder, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Graphene oxide reinforced high surface area silica aerogels." Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids465 (2017): 31-38.

  3. Priyanka Ganguly, Snehamol Mathew, Laura Clarizia, A. Akande, Steven Hinder, Ailish Breen, and Suresh C. Pillai. "Theoretical and experimental investigation of visible light responsive AgBiS2-TiO2 heterojunctions for enhanced photocatalytic applications." Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 253 (2019): 401-418.

Group Head: Prof. Suresh C. Pillai

Principal Investigators: Dr. Vignesh Kumaravel, Dr. Ailish Breen, Dr. Sarah Hehir, Dr. Uma Tiwari, Dr. Yvonne Lang, Dr. Eileen Armstrong, Dr. Ioannis Manolakis, Dr. Geraldine Dowling Dr. Umar Khan

Researchers: Jamie Grant, Ciara McCabe, Saoirse Dervin, Ciara Byrne, Priyanka Ganguly, Snehamol Mathew, Sean O’Conner and  Kris O’Dowd.