Synthesis and Characterization of Single-Phased BiFeO3 Nanostructures for Photocatalytic Applications: Hydrothermal Approach

  • Muniyandi Muneeswaran
  • Radhalayam Dhanalakshmi
  • Ali Akbari-FakhrabadiEmail author
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 36)


The multiferroic material bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3, BFO) is a newly emerging photocatalytic material reported to be comparable with other oxide semiconductor materials. BFO photocatalysis encounters challenges based on its practical use. As it has a narrow energy bandgap (about 1.8–2.8 eV), the photocatalysis of visible and UV light such as hydrogen (H2) generation by water splitting becomes possible. This chapter discusses the synthesis of single-phase BFO nanostructures approached by the hydrothermal method, and optimization of single-phase BFO nanostructures by tuning the particle size and morphology with assistance of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and potassium hydroxide (KOH) as precipitating agents. Outlooks on the expansion of advanced BFO photocatalysts with possible improvement for the remediation of environmental pollution are discussed.


Nanostructured photocatalysts Bismuth ferrite (BiFeO3Hydrothermal method Photocatalytic activity Particle size Morphology 



The authors acknowledge FONDECYT Postdoctoral Research Project No. 3180055, Government of Chile, for the financial support.


  1. Al-Kahtani AA, Alshehri SM, Naushad M et al (2019) Fabrication of highly porous N/S doped carbon embedded with ZnS as highly efficient photocatalyst for degradation of bisphenol. Int J Biol Macromol 121:415–423. Scholar
  2. Arazas, Wu CC, Chang KS (2018) Hydrothermal fabrication and analysis of piezotronic-related properties of BiFeO3 nanorods. Ceram Inter 44:14158–14162. Scholar
  3. Baruah S, Pal SK, Dutta J (2012) Nanostructured zinc oxide for water treatment. Nanosci Nanotechnol Asia 2:90–102. Scholar
  4. Basu S, Hossain M, Chakravorty D, Pal M (2011) Enhanced magnetic properties in hydrothermally synthesized Mn-doped BiFeO3 nanoparticles. Curr Appl Phys 11:976–980. Scholar
  5. Borker P, Salker AV (2006) Photocatalytic degradation of textile azo dye over Ce1−xSnxO2 series. Mater Sci Eng B 133:55–60. Scholar
  6. Chaudhuri A, Mitra S, Mandal M, Mandal K (2010) Nanostructured bismuth ferrites synthesized by solvothermal process. J Alloys Compd 491:703. Scholar
  7. Chen XB, Mao SS (2007) Titanium dioxide nanomaterials: synthesis, properties, modifications, and applications. Chem Rev 107:2891. Scholar
  8. Chen XY, Yu T, Gao F, Zhang HT, Liu LF, Wang YM, Li ZS, Zou ZG, Liu JM (2007) Application of weak ferromagnetic BiFeO3 films as the photoelectrode material under visible-light irradiation. Appl Phys Lett 91:022114. Scholar
  9. Chen X, Shen S, Guo L, Mao SS (2010) Semiconductor-based photocatalytic hydrogen generation. Chem Rev 110:6503. Scholar
  10. Chen XZ, Yang RL, Zhou JP, Chen XM, Jiang Q, Liu P (2013) Dielectric and magnetic properties of multiferroic BiFeO3 ceramics sintered with the powders prepared by hydrothermal method. Solid State Sci 19:117–121. Scholar
  11. Cho CM, Noh JH, Cho IS, An JS, Hong KS, Kim JY (2008) Low-temperature hydrothermal synthesis of pure BiFeO3 nanopowders using triethanolamine and their applications as visible-light. Photocatalysts J Am Ceram Soc 91:3753. Scholar
  12. Chong MN, Jin B, Chow CWK, Saint C (2010) Recent developments in photocatalytic water treatment technology: a review. Water Res 44:2997–3027. Scholar
  13. Das N, Majumdar R, Sen A, Maiti HS (2007) Nanosized bismuth ferrite powder prepared through sonochemical and microemulsion techniques. Mater Lett 61:2100. Scholar
  14. Dhanalakshmi R, Muneeswaran M, Pradeep RV, Ashok M, Giridharan NV (2015) Photocatalytic activity of BiFeO3 nanoparticles synthesized through hydrothermal method. AIP Conf Proc 1665:130014. Scholar
  15. Dhanalakshmi R, Muneeswaran M, Shalini K, Giridharan NV (2016) Enhanced hotocatalytic activity of La-substituted BiFeO3 nanostructures on the degradation of phenol red. Mater Lett 165:205–209. Scholar
  16. Di LJ, Yanga H, Xiana T, Lib RS, Feng YC, Feng WJ (2014) Influence of precursor Bi3+/Fe3+ ion concentration on hydrothermal synthesis of BiFeO3 crystallites. Ceram Int 40:4575–4578. Scholar
  17. Du Y, Cheng ZX, Shahbazi M, Collings EW, Dou SX, Wang XL (2010) Enhancement of ferromagnetic and dielectric properties in lanthanum doped BiFeO3 by hydrothermal synthesis. J Alloys Compd 490:637–641. Scholar
  18. Farhadi S, Zaidi M (2009) Bismuth ferrite BiFeO3 nanopowder prepared by sucrose-assisted combustion method: a novel and reusable heterogeneous catalyst for acetylation of amines, alcohols and phenols under solvent-free conditions. J Mol Catal A Chem 299:18. Scholar
  19. Gao T, Chen Z, Niu Huang O, Zhu Y, Qin, Sun X, Huang Y (2015) Shape-controlled preparation of bismuth ferrite by hydrothermal method and their visible-light degradation properties. J Alloys Compd 648:564–570. Scholar
  20. Gholam T, Ablat A, Mamat M, Wu R, Aimidula A, Bake MA, Zheng L, Wang J, Qian H, Wu R, Ibrahim K (2017) Local electronic structure analysis of Zn-doped BiFeO3 powders by X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy. J Alloys Compd 710:843–849. Scholar
  21. Ghosh S, Dasgupta S, Sen A, Maiti HS (2005) Low temperature synthesis of bismuth ferrite nanoparticles by a ferrioxalate precursor method. Mater Res Bull 40:2073. Scholar
  22. Gonjal JP, Villafuerte-Castrejo ME, Fuentes L, Mora E (2009) Microwave–hydrothermal synthesis of the multiferroic BiFeO3. Mater Res Bull 44:1734–1737. Scholar
  23. Guo Y, Pu Y, Cui Y, Hui C, Wan J, Cui C (2017) A simple method using citric acid as the template agent to improve photocatalytic performance of BiFeO3 nanoparticles. Mater Lett 196:57–60. Scholar
  24. Han JT, Huang YH, Wu XJ, Wu CL, Wei W, Peng B, Huang W, Goodenough JB (2006) Tunable synthesis of bismuth ferrites with various morphologies. Adv Mater 18:2145–2148. Scholar
  25. Han YL, Liu WF, Wu P, Xu XL, Guo MC, Rao GH, Wang SY (2016) Effect of aliovalent Pd substitution on multiferroic properties in BiFeO3 nanoparticles. J Alloys Compd 661:115–121. Scholar
  26. He X, Gao L (2009) Synthesis of pure phase BiFeO3 powders in molten alkali metal nitrates. Ceram Int 35:975. Scholar
  27. Huang J, Tan G, Yang W, Zhang L, Ren H, Xia A (2014) Microwave hydrothermal synthesis of BiFeO3: impact of different surfactants on the morphology and photocatalytic properties. Mater Sci Semicond Process 25:2584–2588. Scholar
  28. Humayun M, Zada A, Li Z, Xie M, Zhang X, Qu Y, Raziq F, Jing L (2016) Enhanced visible-light activities of porous BiFeO3 by coupling with nanocrystalline TiO2 and mechanism. Appl Catal B 180:219–226. Scholar
  29. Huo Y, Jin Y, Zhang Y (2010) Citric acid assisted solvothermal synthesis of BiFeO3 microspheres with high visible-light photocatalytic activity. J Mol Catal A Chem 331:15–20. Scholar
  30. Javadian H, Angaji MT, Naushad M (2014) Synthesis and characterization of polyaniline/γ-alumina nanocomposite: a comparative study for the adsorption of three different anionic dyes. J Ind Eng Chem 20:3890–3900. Scholar
  31. Jiang J, Zou J, Anjum MN, Yan J, Huang L, Zhang Y, Chen J (2011) Synthesis and characterization of wafer-like BiFeO3 with efficient catalytic activity. Solid State Sci 13:1779–1785. Scholar
  32. Kim YJ, Gao B, Han SY, Jung MH, Chakraborty AK, Ko T, Lee C, Lee WI (2009) Heterojunction of FeTiO3 nanodisc and TiO2 nanoparticle for a novel visible light photocatalyst. J Phys Chem C 113:19179–19184. Scholar
  33. Kim AY, Han SH, Kang HW, Lee HG, Kim JS, Cheon CI (2012) Dielectric and magnetic properties of BiFeO3 ceramics prepared by hydrothermal synthesis. Ceram Int 38S:S397–S401CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Konta R, Ishii T, Kato H, Kudo A (2004) Photocatalytic activities of noble metal ion doped SrTiO3 under visible light irradiation. J Phys Chem B 108:8992–8995. Scholar
  35. Kudo A, Miseki Y (2009) Heterogeneous photocatalyst materials for water splitting. Chem Soc Rev 38:253. Scholar
  36. Lam SM, Jaffari ZH, Sin JC, Mohamed AR (2018) Spindly BiFeO3 nanoparticles for photodegradation of organic pollutants under a compact fluorescent lamp. IOP Conf Ser Earth Environ Sci 151:012021CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lee TK, Sung DK, Hoon JJ (2015) Electric polarization and diode-like conduction in hydrothermally grown BiFeO3 thin films. J Alloys Compd 622:734–737. Scholar
  38. Li S, Lin HY, Zhang PB, Nan WC, Wang Y (2009) Photocatalytic and magnetic behaviors observed in nanostructured BiFeO3 particles. J Appl Phys 105:056105. Scholar
  39. Li, Lin YH, Zhang BP, Wang Y, Nan CW (2010) Controlled fabrication of BiFeO3 uniform microcrystals and their magnetic and photocatalytic behaviors. J Phys Chem C 114:2903–2908. Scholar
  40. Li T, Shen J, Li N, Ye M (2013) Hydrothermal preparation, characterization and enhanced properties of reduced graphene-BiFeO3 nanocomposite. Mater Lett 91:42–44. Scholar
  41. Li X, Yu J, Low J, Fang Y, Xiao J, Chen X (2015) Engineering heterogeneous semiconductors for solar water splitting. J Mater Chem A 3:2485. Scholar
  42. Li P, Li L, Xu M, Chen Q, He Y (2017) Enhanced photocatalytic property of BiFeO3/N-doped graphene composites and mechanism insight. Appl Surf Sci 396:879–887. Scholar
  43. Maeda K (2014) Rhodium-doped barium titanate perovskite as a stable p-type semiconductor photocatalyst for hydrogen evolution under visible light. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 6:2167–2173. Scholar
  44. Marzoukia A, Harzalia H, Saida F, Megriche A, Zehani K, Bessais L (2016) Optimization of the synthesis of multiferroic bismuth ferrite BiFeO3 nanopowders by hydrothermal method. J Tunis Chem Soc 18:38–42Google Scholar
  45. Mushtaq F, Chen X, Hoop M, Gattinoni C, Bradley JN, Pane S (2018) Piezoelectrically enhanced photocatalysis with BiFeO3 nanostructures for efficient water remediation synthesis and characterization of wafer-like BiFeO3 with efficient catalytic activity. iScience 4:236–246. Scholar
  46. Ni M, Leung MKH, Leung DYC, Sumathy K (2007) A review and recent developments in photocatalytic water-splitting using TiO2 for hydrogen production. Renew Sust Energ Rev 11:401–425. Scholar
  47. Niu F, Chen D, Qin L, Gao T, Zhang Z, Wang S, Chen Z, Wang J, Sun X, Huang Y (2015) Synthesis of Pt/BiFeO3 heterostructured photocatalysts for highly efficient visible-light photocatalytic performances. Sol Energy Mater Sol Cells 143:386–396. Scholar
  48. Papadas I, Christodoulides JA, Kioseoglou G, Armatas GS (2015) A high surface area ordered mesoporous BiFeO3 semiconductor with efficient water oxidation activity. J Mater Chem A 3:1587. Scholar
  49. Parida KM, Reddy KH, Martha S, Das DP, Biswal N (2010) Fabrication of nanocrystalline LaFeO3: an efficient sol–gel auto-combustion assisted visible light responsive photocatalyst for water decomposition. Int J Hydrog Energy 35:12161–12168. Scholar
  50. Pathania D, Sharma G, Kumar A et al (2015) Combined sorptional–photocatalytic remediation of dyes by polyaniline Zr(IV) selenotungstophosphate nanocomposite. Toxicol Environ Chem 97:526–537. Scholar
  51. Peng JH, Hojamberdiev M, Cao BW, Wang JA, Xu YH (2011) Surfactant-free hydrothermal synthesis of submicron BiFeO3 powders. Appl Phys A 103:511. Scholar
  52. Ponraj C, Vinitha G, Daniel J (2017) A review on the visible light active BiFeO3 nanostructures as suitable photocatalyst in the degradation of different textile dyes. Environ Nanotechnol Monit Manag 7:110–120. Scholar
  53. Popa M, Crespo D, Moreno JMC (2007) Synthesis and structural characterization of single-phase BiFeO3 powders from a polymeric precursor. J Am Ceram Soc 90:2723. Scholar
  54. Qu Y, Zhou W, Ren Z, Du S, Meng X, Tian G, Pan K, Wang G, Fu HJ (2011) Facile preparation of porous NiTiO3 nanorods with enhanced visible-light-driven photocatalytic performance. Mater Chem 22:16471–16476. Scholar
  55. Qu Y, Zhou W, Fu H (2014) Porous cobalt titanate nanorod: a new candidate for visible light-driven photocatalytic water oxidation. ChemCatChem 6:265–270. Scholar
  56. Rauf MA, Meetani MA, Hisaindee S (2011) An overview on the photocatalytic degradation of azo dyes in the presence of TiO2 doped with selective transition metals. Desalination 276:13–27. Scholar
  57. Sun M, Jiang Y, Li F, Xia M, Xue B, Liu D (2010) Dye degradation activity and stability of perovskite-type LaCoO3−x (x=0–0.075). Mater Trans 51:2208–2214. Scholar
  58. Sun X, Liu Z, Yu H, Zheng Z, Zeng D (2018) Facile synthesis of BiFeO3 nanoparticles by modified microwave-assisted hydrothermal method as visible light driven photocatalysts. Mater Lett 219:225–228. Scholar
  59. Tan GQ, Zheng YQ, Miao HY, Xia A, Ren HJ (2012) Controllable microwave hydrothermal synthesis of bismuth ferrites and photocatalytic characterization. J Am Ceram Soc 95:280–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tang P, Chen H, Cao F, Pan G (2011a) Magnetically recoverable and visible-light-driven nanocrystalline YFeO3 photocatalysts. Catal Sci Technol 1:1145–1148. Scholar
  61. Tang P, Sun H, Cao F, Yang J, Ni S, Chen H (2011b) Visible-light driven LaNiO3 nanosized photocatalysts prepared by a sol-gel process. Adv Mater Res 279:83–87. Scholar
  62. Tsai CJ, Yang CY, Liao YC, Chueh YL (2012) Hydrothermally grown bismuth ferrites: controllable phases and morphologies in a mixed KOH/NaOH mineralizer. J Mater Chem 22:17432. Scholar
  63. Veeramani V, Matsagar BM, Yamauchi Y et al (2019) Metal organic framework derived nickel phosphide/graphitic carbon hybrid for electrochemical hydrogen generation reaction. J Taiwan Inst Chem Eng 96:634–638. Scholar
  64. Wang Y, Xu G, Ren Z, Wei X, Weng W, Du P, Shen G, Han G (2008) Low temperature polymer assisted hydrothermal synthesis of bismuth ferrite nanoparticles. Ceram Int 34:1569–1571. Scholar
  65. Wang Y, Xu G, Yang L, Ren Z, Wei X, Weng W, Du P, Shen G, Han G (2009) Hydrothermal synthesis of single-crystal bismuth ferrite nanoflakes assisted by potassium nitrate. Ceram Int 35:1285. Scholar
  66. Wang X, Zhang Y, Wu Z (2010) Magnetic and optical properties of multiferroic bismuth ferrite nanoparticles by tartaric acid-assisted sol–gel strategy. Mater Lett 64:486–488. Scholar
  67. Wang J, Wei Y, Zhang J, Ji L, Huang Y, Chen Z (2014) Synthesis of pure-phase BiFeO3 nanopowder by nitric acid-assisted gel. Mater Lett 124:242–244. Scholar
  68. Wang XF, Mao WW, Zhang J, Han YM, Quan CY, Zhang QX, Yang T, Yang JP, Li XA, Huang W (2015) Facile fabrication of highly efficient y-C3N4/BiFeO3 nanocomposites with enhanced visible light photocatalytic activities. Colloid Interf Sci 448:17–23. Scholar
  69. Wang S, Chen D, Niu F, Zhang N, Qin L, Huang Y (2016a) Hydrogenation-induced surface oxygen vacancies in BiFeO3 nanoparticles for enhanced visible light photocatalytic performance. J Alloys Compd 688:399–406. Scholar
  70. Wang X, Mao W, Zhang Q, Wang Q, Zhu Y, Zhang J, Yang T, Yang J, Li XA, Huang W (2016b) PVP assisted hydrothermal fabrication and morphology-controllable fabrication of BiFeO3 uniform nanostructures with enhanced photocatalytic activities. J Alloys Compd 677:288–293. Scholar
  71. Wei J, Xue DS (2008) Low-temperature synthesis of BiFeO3 nanoparticles by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid complexing sol–gel process. Mater Res Bull 43:3368–3373. Scholar
  72. Wei J, Zhang C, Xu Z (2012) Low-temperature hydrothermal synthesis of BiFeO3 microcrystals and their visible-light photocatalytic activity. Mater Res Bull 47:3513–3517. Scholar
  73. Wu Y, Han W, Zhou SX, Lototsky MV, Solberg JK, Yartys VA (2008) Microstructure and hydrogenation behavior of ball-milled and melt-spun Mg–10Ni–2Mm alloys. J Alloys Compd 466:176. Scholar
  74. Xian T, Yang H, Shen X, Jiang JL, Wei ZQ, Feng WJ (2009) Preparation of high-quality BiFeO3 nanopowders via a polyacrylamide gel route. J Alloys Compd 480:889–892. Scholar
  75. Xu JH, Ke H, De C, Jia WW, Zhou Y (2009) Low-temperature synthesis of BiFeO3 nanopowders via a sol–gel method. J Alloys Compd 472:473–477. Scholar
  76. Xua Y, Gao Y, Xing H, Zhang J (2018) Room temperature spontaneous exchange bias in BiFeO3 micro/nano powders synthesized by hydrothermal method. Ceram Int 44:17459–17463. Scholar
  77. Yu X, An X (2009) Enhanced magnetic and optical properties of pure and (Mn, Sr) doped BiFeO3 nanocrystals. Solid State Commun 149:711–714. Scholar
  78. Yun-hui Si, Xia Y, Shang SK, Xiong XB, Zeng XR, Zhou J, Li YY (2018) Enhanced visible light driven photocatalytic behavior of BiFeO3/reduced graphene oxide composites. Nanomaterials 8:526. Scholar
  79. Zhang HJ, Chen GH, Bahnemann DW (2009) Photoelectrocatalytic materials for environmental applications. J Mater Chem 19:5089. Scholar
  80. Zheng PD, Chen J, Kanhere Z (2011) Site, specific optical and photocatalytic properties of Bi-doped NaTaO3. J Phys Chem C 115:11846–11853. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Muniyandi Muneeswaran
    • 1
  • Radhalayam Dhanalakshmi
    • 2
  • Ali Akbari-Fakhrabadi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Advanced Materials Laboratory, Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology MadrasChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations