Novel Zr–Cu–Fe nanocomposite metal oxides: structural, magnetic and composition activity effects on photodegradation of phenols

  • Mohammed A. Wahba
  • Abdelrahman A. BadawyEmail author
Original Paper: Sol-gel and hybrid materials with surface modification for applications


Pure CuFe2O4 nanoparticles were synthesized using sol–gel method technique. Effect of Zr/Cu substitution (Cu1−xZrx, where x = 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, and 1.00) on the structural, morphological, and magnetic properties was studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX), infrared Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), and vibrating sample magnetometer (VSM). The photocatalytic behavior of pure CuFe2O4 as well Zr-substituted samples was investigated for degradation of phenol in aqueous solution in the presence of ultraviolet irradiation. The XRD results of pure CuFe2O4 confirmed the formation of single tetragonal structure phase, while introducing zirconium in the structural composition resulted in a decrease in the crystallinity and gradual disappearance of the cuprospinel phase accompanied with appearance of single metal oxides species (Fe2O3, ZrO2, Cu4O3). Based on the scanning (SEM–EDX), the samples consist of agglomerated particles with varying sizes and shapes related to their compositions. The magnetic hysteresis loops of all samples exhibited room temperature ferromagnetism with variable shapes, saturation magnetization, and coercivity values. All samples showed a significant photocatalytic activity when irradiated with ultraviolet light. The highest photocatalytic efficiency (92%) for phenol degradation was achieved through the 25% Zr-substituted sample under irradiation time of 150 min.


  • Novel Zr–Cu–Fe metal oxide nanocomposites were synthesized using sol–gel technique.

  • Effect of Zr/Cu substitution percentage on the structural, morphological, and magnetic properties was investigated.

  • The photocatalytic activity of the nanocomposites was also investigated.

  • A significant photocatalytic activity enhancement toward phenol degradation was achieved through Zr/Cu substitution especially at 25%.


Copper ferrite Cu4O3 Zr/Cu substitution Phenol degradation ferromagnetism Sol–gel synthesis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Inorganic Chemistry DepartmentNational Research CentreDokkiEgypt
  2. 2.Physical Chemistry Department, Division of Inorganic Chemical Industries and Mineral ResourcesNational Research CentreDokkiEgypt

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