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Photocatalytic Dissolution of Precious Metals by TiO2 through Photogenerated Free Radicals

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Based on experimental and theoretical results, this work explores the mechanism of photocatalytic precious metal dissolution. It is clear that photogenerated radicals and ligand molecules are the keys to precious metal dissolution, and the process has potential significance for enhancing photocatalytic selective recovery of precious metals.


Exploring the pathways for photocatalytic dissolution of precious metals (PMs) is crucial for optimizing recovery. In this work, we systematically investigated the selectivity and solvation effects observed for dissolution by focusing on photocatalysis, precious metals and solvents. By combining transient characterization, reaction kinetics, and density functional theory, we determined that the radicals generated in photocatalysis were the key active species in the entire reaction. The cyano functional group in the solvent was the driving factor for dissolution of gold, and the importance of chlorine radicals for dissolution of platinum group precious metals was further confirmed. In addition, the catalytic properties of different precious metals can promote different transformations of functional groups, leading to selective dissolution. The structures of photocatalytic precious metal leaches also precisely explains the special coordination forms of precious metals and functional group ligands.

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