Photoelectrochemical Solar Cells Prepared from Nanoscale Zerovalent Iron Used for Aqueous Cd2+ Removal

Keyla T. Soto Hidalgo, Edwin O. Ortiz-Quiles, Luis E. Betancourt, Eduardo Larios, Miguel José-Yacaman, Carlos R. Cabrera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) particles have been widely studied in the environmental sciences for wastewater treatment. These types of nanoparticles react in aqueous media producing metal oxides, which can be photoactive in the ultraviolet energy region. This prompted us to examine alternatives for the preparation of nanomaterials using nZVI in the presence of 6 and 30 ppm of Cd2+ in aqueous solutions. These Cd2+ concentrations are representative of contaminated regions of Puerto Rico such as the Las Cucharillas Marsh in Cataño. Comprehensive chemical and physical characterization of the resulting nZVI products after their exposure to Cd2+ was done. Further studies of the resulting nanostructures were completed using a photoelectrochemical solar cell (PSC) as the photoanode material. Incident photon-to-current efficiency (IPCE) and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) analysis of these PSCs showed active photochemical properties in the ultraviolet range for the sample exposed to 30 ppm of Cd2+. Changes in the structure and chemical oxidation states of the species were observed in transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and X-ray absorption spectroscopy analysis was attributed to these photochemical properties. These results show an alternative synthetic method for producing iron oxides for photocatalytic applications, and a possible strategy for reuse of nZVI after water remediation treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)738-745
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 7 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Cadmium ferrite
  • Electrochemistry
  • Iron oxide nanoparticles
  • Photovoltaic
  • Remediation
  • Zerovalent iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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