An innovative approach for the fabrication of hybrid photocatalysts on a solid porous polymeric system for the heterogeneous photocatalytic degradation of organic pollutants is herein presented. Specifically, gold/zinc oxide (Au/ZnO)-based porous nanocomposites are formed in situ by a two-step process. In the first step, branched ZnO nanostructures fixed on poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) fibers are obtained upon the thermal conversion of zinc acetate-loaded PMMA electrospun mats. Subsequently, Au nanoparticles (NPs) are directly formed on the surface of the ZnO through an adsorption dipping process and thermal treatment. The effect of different concentrations of the Au ion solutions to the formation of Au/ZnO hybrids is investigated, proving that for 1 wt % of Au NPs with respect to the composite there is an effective metal–semiconductor interfacial interaction. As a result, a significant improvement of the photocatalytic performance of the ZnO/PMMA electrospun nanocomposite for the degradation of methylene blue (MB) and bisphenol A (BPA) under UV light is observed. Therefore, the proposed method can be used to prepare flexible fibrous composites characterized by a high surface area, flexibility, and light weight. These can be used for heterogeneous photocatalytic applications in water treatment, without the need of post treatment steps for their removal from the treated water which may restrict their wide applicability and cause secondary pollution.
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