Photocatalytic overall water splitting on (oxy)nitrides under visible light is one of the interesting approaches to fulfill the growing demand for clean and renewable energy. The improvement of the fabrication method is however important for reducing the defect density of (oxy)nitride crystals. The present study aims to investigate the direct growth of the LaTiO2N (LTON) crystallites with less defect density by an NH3-assisted flux method and to demonstrate the visible-light-induced photocatalytic water oxidation activity in relation to their crystallite morphology. Single-phase LaTiO2N crystallites (average size of 120 ± 39 nm) in round shape with smooth surface and high crystallinity were grown by an NH3-assisted flux method using the KCl flux with the solute concentration of 5 mol % at 950 °C for 10 h. The photocatalytic water oxidation activity of bare and CoOx-loaded LaTiO2N crystallites grown directly by an NH3-assisted flux method (1-step-LTON) was evaluated under visible light by comparing with the LaTiO2N crystallites fabricated by a two-step method (2-step-LTON), converting La2Ti2O7 to LaTiO2N by high-temperature nitridation. Within the first 2 h of the photocatalytic water oxidation half-reaction, the O2 evolution rates of bare and CoOx-loaded 1-step-LTON crystallites were 82 μmol·h-1 and 204 μmol·h-1, respectively, which are much higher than that of bare and CoOx-loaded 2-step-LTON crystallites (37 μmol·h-1 and 177 μmol·h-1) due to less defect density of the LaTiO2N crystallites achieved by a direct fabrication route using KCl flux. An NH3-assisted flux growth is a promising route for the direct fabrication of the LaTiO2N crystallites with less defect density that is beneficial for the enhancement of photocatalytic water oxidation half-reaction.
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