ABSTRACT

Kaolin and diatomite are abundant and widely available geological materials that may immobilize or stabilize functional chemical species on their surfaces for various applications. Acid-treated kaolin and diatomite were intercalated with photocatalyst Ag-TiO2 nanoparticles using the sol–gel technique to prepare nanocomposite ceramic materials. The nanocomposites were sintered between 900°C and 1000°C to induce thermal reactions and to enhance nanoparticle–substrate attachment. Chemical and thermal characterizations of the acid-treated materials and intercalated nanocomposites were performed with energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), respectively. The Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET)-specific surface area and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) were employed for physical and microstructural characterization of the nanocomposites, respectively. Morphological studies revealed a uniform distribution of Ag-TiO2 nanocrystallites in pores and on mineral particle surfaces. The BET analysis showed remarkable surface and grain modification by sintering. Decreases in the BET-specific surface area were observed for the sintered ceramic nanocomposite, Ag-TiO2-kaolin (20.244 to 5.446 m2/g) and Ag-TiO2-diatomite (19.582 to 10.148 m2/g).

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