A highly efficient monoclinic BiVO4 photocatalyst (C-BVO) was synthesized by an aqueous method with the assistance of cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB). The structure, morphology and photophysical properties of the C-BVO were characterized by XRD, FE-SEM and diffuse reflectance spectroscopy, respectively. The photocatalytic efficiencies were evaluated by the degradation of rhodamine B (RhB) under visible-light irradiation, revealing that the degradation rate over the C-BVO was much higher than that over the reference BiVO4 prepared by aqueous method and over the one prepared by solid-state reaction. The efficiency of de-ethylation and that of the cleavage of conjugated chromophore structure were investigated, respectively. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) values of the RhB were measured after the photocatalytic degradation over the C-BVO and demonstrated a 53% decrease in COD. The effects of CTAB on the synthesis of C-BVO were investigated, which revealed that CTAB not only changed the reaction process via the formation of BiOBr as an intermediate, but also facilitated the transition from BiOBr to BiVO4. Comparison experiments were carried out and showed that the existence of impurity level makes significant contribution to the high photocatalytic efficiency of the C-BVO.
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