Solar Light Degradation of Trimethyl Phosphate and Triethyl Phosphate on Dry and Water-Precovered Hematite and Goethite Nanoparticles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We report on the solar-light-mediated degradation of trimethyl phosphate (TMP) and triethyl phosphate (TEP) on hematite and goethite nanoparticles in synthetic air. Adsorption and photoreactions of TMP and TEP were studied by in situ diffuse reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (DRIFTS) on dry and water-precovered nanoparticles in dark and under simulated solar light irradiation. Two-dimensional correlation analysis of infrared spectra was used to identify surface products as a function of reaction time. The optical properties of the hematite and goethite nanoparticles were investigated with optical spectrophotometry. The optical band gap was determined by analysis of the Tauc relationship around the band gap energy, E-g, yielding band gap energies of 2.14 and 2.28 eV for hematite and goethite nanoparticles, respectively. It is found that both TMP and TEP are readily photodegraded upon solar light irradiation (employing AM1.5 filters with 1735 W m(-2)), yielding surface orthophosphate as the final product. The first step in the dissociation of TMP and TEP is displacement of the methoxy and ethoxy groups, respectively, yielding adsorbed dimethyl phosphate (DMP) and methoxy, and diethyl phosphate (DEP) and ethoxy intermediates. Further photodegradation displaces additional methoxy and ethoxy groups with adsorbed orthophosphate as final reaction product. Methoxy and ethoxy fragments are simultaneously oxidized to carboxylates and carbonates. Photodegradation of TMP and TEP is promoted by OH radicals, which is evidenced by the higher photodegradation rate on water-precovered surfaces. The rate of TMP degradation is higher than that for TEP contrary to what is expected from their corresponding bulk hydrolysis rates, but consistent with their surface reactivity in dark, where TMP is observed to dissociate at room temperature but not TEP (or only very slowly). The photodegradation rate is higher on the goethite nanoparticles than the hematite nanoparticles on both dry and water precovered surfaces. The TMP and TEP photodegradation rate constants are found to be 0.025 (0.058) and 0.008 (0.023) min(-1), respectively, on water-precovered hematite (goethite) nanoparticles.


External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14917-14929
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note