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A study of new photocatalyst indicator inks

Mills, A. and McGrady, M. (2008) A study of new photocatalyst indicator inks. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, 193 (2-3). pp. 228-236. ISSN 1010-6030

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This article reports the behaviour of three photocatalyst indicator inks, based on the redox dyes: methylene blue (MB), resorufin (Rf) and 2,6-dichloroindophenol (DCIP), and assess their performance in comparison to the pioneering resazurin (Rz)-based ink for the rapid assessment of the activity of very thin, photocatalyst films, such as Activ™ self-cleaning glass. From a commercial 'demonstrator of photocatalysis' perspective, all three redox dyes appear more attractive compared to Rz since all generate colourless products in the ink formulation when photoreduced on Activ™ under anaerobic conditions, whereas, the reduced product from Rz, the redox dye resorufin, Rf, is pink in colour. However, the ink based on Rf is far too slow to effect the rapid measurement of photocatalytic activity even in the absence of oxygen, and in the presence of oxygen the latter inhibits the overall kinetics of photoreduction by re-oxidising the reduced product, dihydroresorufin, HRf, back to Rf. Similarly, despite the attractive rapid rate of photobleaching for MB under anaerobic conditions, compared to the other redox dyes, the reduced product of the MB-based ink, leuco-MB, is so oxygen-sensitive that the ink cannot be photoreduced under aerobic conditions, thus rendering the ink unsuitable for use in the field. The DCIP-based ink is slightly less easy to photoreduce under both anaerobic and ambient atmospheric conditions compared to the Rz-based ink. However, in addition to its more attractive colour change, the DCIP-based ink is unaffected by the ambient level of oxygen present (%O2) and the relative humidity (%RH), whereas, for the Rz-based ink, both parameters effect the photoreduction kinetics. By incorporating the DCIP ink into a felt-tipped pen, the ink is suitable for use in the laboratory and field to perform not only a qualitative test, but also to allow a semi-quantitative analysis of photocatalytic activity by eye.