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ZnO with various morphologies and contents was used to decorate reduced graphene oxide (rGO) sheets via an easy one-step low-temperature chemical etching route to improve photocatalytic properties. The ZnO shape and content in ZnO/rGO composites were adjusted by changing aging time, heating mode, and rGO mass added. Shape and content-dependent optical and photocatalytic properties are observed in ZnO/rGO composites. A moderate amount of ZnO nanorings (NRs) decorated with rGO can significantly improve the light absorption and photo-luminescence emission because of plasmonic resonant absorption and plasmonic nanoantenna radiation, respectively. ZnO NR/rGO composites with a moderate ZnO content of 29.54 wt.% exhibit the optimum photocatalytic activity with a 0.025 min−1 apparent rate constant, which is significantly higher than those of pure rGO (0.0085 min−1) and ZnO NRs (0.018 min−1). The improved performance is ascribed to the synergistic effect of enhanced adsorption capacity, plasmonic light absorption, plasmonic nanoantenna radiation, and the prolonged lifetime of photogenerated electron-hole pairs. Our findings not only offer insights into the plasmon enhanced optical and photocatalytic properties of ZnO NR/rGO composites but also suggest the possibility of fabricating ZnO NR/rGO photocatalyst with enhanced performance.

This article originally appeared in Applied Surface Science 412, 2017, Pages 58-68.

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