Evanescent waves modulate energy efficiency of photocatalysis within TiO2 coated optical fibers illuminated using LEDs

Yinghao Song, Li Ling, Paul Westerhoff, Chii Shang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coupling photocatalyst-coated optical fibers (P-OFs) with LEDs shows potential in environmental applications. Here we report a strategy to maximize P-OF light usage and quantify interactions between two forms of light energy (refracted light and evanescent waves) and surface-coated photocatalysts. Different TiO2-coated quartz optical fibers (TiO2-QOFs) are synthesized and characterized. An energy balance model is then developed by correlating different nano-size TiO2 coating structures with light propagation modes in TiO2-QOFs. By reducing TiO2 patchiness on optical fibers to 0.034 cm2/cm2 and increasing the average interspace distance between fiber surfaces and TiO2 coating layers to 114.3 nm, refraction is largely reduced when light is launched into TiO2-QOFs, and 91% of light propagated on the fiber surface is evanescent waves. 24% of the generated evanescent waves are not absorbed by nano-TiO2 and returned to optical fibers, thus increasing the quantum yield during degradation of a refractory pollutant (carbamazepine) in water by 32%. Our model also predicts that extending the TiO2-QOF length could fully use the returned light to double the carbamazepine degradation and quantum yield. Therefore, maximizing evanescent waves to activate photocatalysts by controlling photocatalyst coating structures emerges as an effective strategy to improve light usage in photocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4101
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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