Water/oil nanoemulsion-based synthesis of BixSn6-2xSy (0.33 ≤ × ≤ 2.95) semiconductor QDs for efficient photocatalytic degradation of MB dye

Mosaad Negem, David Miller, John Irvine, Fakiha El-Taib Heakal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of efficient photocatalysts for the photodegradation of organic dyes in wastewater is highly worthwhile. Herein, the nanoemulsion tactic was utilized to synthesize BixSn6-2xSy (0.33 ≤ x ≤ 2.95) photocatalysts with morphological structures that changed from nanowhiskers to quantum dots (QDs). The optical properties of these materials were examined by UV-visible absorbance spectroscopy and photoluminescence, while Mott-Schottky analysis was utilized to study their electronic properties. BixSn6-2xSy materials exhibit appreciable absorption in the UV-visible light range with a direct band gap that increases from 1.23 to 1.46 eV. Both crystal structure and composition greatly affect the photocatalytic activity of BixSn6-2xSy semiconductors. Among the various synthesized photocatalysts, BiSn4S4.5 can efficiently photodegrade methylene blue dye (MB) in the shortest time under UV-visible light. The photocatalytic activity is positively affected by the change of crystal structure from orthorhombic to cubic symmetry. Based on the Mott-Schottky plots, the flat band potential (Efb) and the semiconductor behavior of the fabricated BixSn6-2xSy nanomaterials were determined. The obtained Efb values for SnS, Bi0.33Sn5.34S5.8, BiSn4S5.5, and Bi2.14Sn1.71S4.7 are -0.18 V, -0.42 V, -0.53 V, and -0.51 V (vs. Ag/AgCl), respectively. The Efb value is clearly shifted towards more negative potential values with increasing the Bi molar ratio (x). However, Bi2.95Sn0.1S4.5 semiconductor was found to be of n-type character, having a positive Efb value of +0.66 V (vs. Ag/AgCl). Photocurrent and EIS responses confirm the high stability and photocatalytic activity of BiSn4S5.5, which also achieves the lowest charge transfer resistance. The modified electronic properties of the BixSn6-2xSy semiconductors significantly improve their photocatalytic activity, rendering them to be promising absorbers for sunlight harvesting applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58998-59012
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Early online date31 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Semiconductor quantum dots
  • Mott-Schottky plots
  • Metal chalcogenides
  • Nanoemulsion tactic
  • MB photodegradation
  • Direct band gap


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