Hybrid materials of electrically conducting polymers and inorganic semiconductors form an exciting class of functional materials. To fully exploit the potential synergies of the hybrid formation, however, sophisticated synthetic methods are required that allow for the fine-tuning of the nanoscale structure of the organic/inorganic interface. Here we present the photocatalytic deposition of a conducting polymer (polyaniline) on the surface of silicon carbide (SiC) nanoparticles. The polymerization is facilitated on the SiC surface, via the oxidation of the monomer molecules by ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) light irradiation through the photogenerated holes. The synthesized core-shell nanostructures were characterized by UV-vis, Raman, and Fourier Transformed Infrared (FT-IR) Spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, transmission and scanning electron microscopy, and electrochemical methods. It was found that the composition of the hybrids can be varied by simply changing the irradiation time. In addition, we proved the crucial importance of the irradiation wavelength in forming conductive polyaniline, instead of its overoxidized, insulating counterpart. Overall, we conclude that photocatalytic deposition is a promising and versatile approach for the synthesis of conducting polymers with controlled properties on semiconductor surfaces. The presented findings may trigger further studies using photocatalysis as a synthetic strategy to obtain nanoscale hybrid architectures of different semiconductors.
Keywords: conjugated polymer; electrochemistry; heterojunction; hybrid materials; optoelectronics; photocatalysis; semiconductor.